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coMPiiisiNa THE narhatives of 













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Introduction by the Editor vii 

The Travels of Bishop Akculf, in the Holy Land, towards a.d. 700 1 

The Travels of WiLLiBALD, A.D. 721—727 13 

The Voyage of Bernard the Wise, a.d. 867 23 

The Travels of S^wulp, A.d. 1102 and 1103 31 

The Saga of Sigurd the Crusader, a.d. 1107 — 1111 50 

The Travels of Rabbi Benjamin, of TuDELA, A.D. IIGO— 1173 63 

The Book of Sir John Maundbville, a.d. 1322— 135G 127 

The Travels of Bertrandon de la Brocquiere, a.d. 1432 and 1433 283 

The Journey of Henry Maundrell, from Aleppo to Jerusalem, 
A.D. 1697 383 



1. Chapel of Scourging. 

2. Scala Sancta. 

3. Pilate's House. 

4. Chapel of Crowning with Thorns. 

5. Arch of ' Ecce Homo.' 

6. First place where Sinrion carried the Cross. 

7. Second do. do. 

8. Gate of Judgment (Porta Judiciaria). 

9. House of Urias. 

10. Bath of Bathsheba. 

11. House of the High Priest Zacharias. 

12. „ St. Marcus. 

13. „ St. Thomas. 

14. „ High Priest Annas. 

15. „ „ Caiphas. 

16. Room in which the Last Supper was instituted. 

17. House of the Virgin Mary. 

18. Place where St. Peter wept. 

19. House of Sta. Anna. 

20. „ the Pharisee Simon. 

21. Place where Stephen was stoned. 

22. „ Jesus sweated blood. 

23. ,, the Disciples slept. 

24. _,, Judas kissed Christ. 

25. „ Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer. 

26. „ ,, wept over Jerusalem. 

27. ;, the Apostles learned the Creed. 

28. Judas hanged himself. 

29. Tomb of Jehoshaphat. 
SO. „ Absolom. 

31. „ Jacob. 

32. „ Zacharias. 


The attentive reader of history cannot fail to remark how 
often, in the confusion of the middle ages, the very move- 
ments or principles which seem in themselves most barbarous, 
or are most strongly tinctured with the darkest shades of super- 
stition, have been those which, in the sequel, gave the 
strongest impulse to the advancing spirit of civilization which 
has at length changed that dark past into this bright present 
It is in the contemplation of this oft-recurring fact, that we 
trace, more distinctly, perhaps, than in any other, the inscrutable 
but unerring ways of that higher Providence to whose rule all 
things are subjected. Few of those duties enjoined by the 
ancient Komish Church were accompanied with, and seemed 
to lead to, more abuses and scandals than the pilgrimages to 
the Holy Land, so natural an attraction to every Christian ; few 
were attended with so much bigotry, and bUndness, and un- 
charitableness, or ended in observances and convictions so 
grossly superstitious and so degrading to the intelligence of 
mankind. Yet it was this throwing of people upon the wide 
and distant scene, on which they were forced into continual 
intercourse, hostile or friendly, according to the circumstances 
of the moment, with people of different manners, creed, sen- 
timent, and knowledge, that gradually softened down all pre- 
judices, and paved the way for the entire destruction of that 
system to which it seemed intended to give support. If the 
seeds of civilization ever existed in the cloister, they were 
seeds cast upon the barren rock, and it was not until they 
were transplanted to another and richer soil, that they began 
to sprout and give promise of fruit. 

Even in this point of view the narrative of those early pil- 
grimages must possess no ordinary degree of interest, and it 
gives us no little insight into the history of the march of in- 
tellectual improvement to accompany these early travellers in 


their wanderings, as they have themselves descrihed them to 
us, and to watch their feelings and hear their opinions. The 
human mind is one of those important objects of study that 
we can never look upon from too many standing-places. But 
there is another point of view in which the narratives of the early 
pilgrims, of which so many have been preserved, are perhaps 
still more interesting. That favoured land to which they re- 
late, the scene of so many events of deep import to our hap- 
piness in this world and in the future, has never lost its at- 
tractions, and more steps, as well as more eyes, are now 
turned towards it, than in those so-called ages of faith, when 
every mile on the road was believed to count in heaven for so 
much towards the redemption of the past crimes and offences, 
however great, of the traveller. Pilgrims innumerable. still 
visit the holy places, with a purer faith and a less prejudiced 
understanding, yet with the desire of knowing what others in 
past ages saw, which is now not to be seen, or which is seen 
under different circumstances ; to know what they thought of 
objects which still offer themselves to view ; and to trace in 
their successive observations and reflections the gradual develop- 
ment of a thirst for discovery and knowledge which has at 
length given them the power of being so much wiser than their 
forefathers. It was the interest created by the objects these 
pilgrims visited personally, and the curiosity excited by the 
vague information obtained from intercourse with men who 
came from parts still more distant, that laid the first founda- 
tion of geographical science, and that first gave the impulse to 
geographical discovery. 

A comparison of the numerous narratives to which we 
allude, places before our eyes the most distinct view we can 
possibly have of the various changes which have swept over 
the land of Palestine since it was snatched from the power 
of the Roman emperors. The more ancient are, of course, the 
mostinteresting,becausethey relate to a period when afar greater 
number of monuments of still earlier antiquity remained in ex- 
istence than it has been the lot of any modern pilgrims to visit, 
and the traditions of the locality were then much more deserv- 
ing of attention, because they were so much nearer to the time 
of the events to which they related. It can hardly be sup- 
posed that the Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem and its 
neighbourhood, under the Eomans, did not preserve some 


authentic traditions concerning the localities of the more 
important events of Gospel history. 

We have fortunately one document of a very remarkable 
character, which has preserved to us the local traditions of the 
Christians of Syria under the Romans. It was first brought 
to light by the celebrated French antiquary, Pierre Pithou, 
who printed it, in 1588, from a manuscript in his own library, 
under the title of ^'Itinerarium a Burdigala Hierusalem usque;'' 
and it was afterwards inserted in the editions of the '^Antonine 
Itinerary,'''' by Schott and Wesseling. The author of this Itine- 
rary was a Christian of Bordeaux, who visited the Holy Land 
in the year 333-^, and it was evidently compiled for the use 
of his countrymen. This visit took place two years before 
the consecration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built 
by the emperor Constantino and his mother Helena. The 
compiler of this Itinerary, who is the first traveller to the East 
who has left us an account of his journey, departed from Bor- 
deaux, then one of the chief cities of Gaul, passed by Aries 
and other towns, and crossed the Alps into Italy, which 
country he traversed, passing through Turin, Pavia, Milan, 
Brescia, Verona, &c., to the then magnificent city of Aquileia ; 
thence he crossed the Julian Alps, and passed through Nori- 
cum, Pannonia, Illyria, Dacia, and Thrace, to Constantinople, 
and thence, after crossing the Bosphorus, he continued his 
route through Asia Minor to Syria. Hitherto the Itinerary 
is a mere recapitulation of names and distances, but, after his 
arrival in Syria, he continually interrupts his bare list of 
names, to mention some holy site, or other object which at- 
tracted his attention. On his arrival at Jerusalem, he gives 
us a long description of that city and its neighbourhood. 
From Jerusalem he returns to Constantinople, varying a little 
his route, and thence he retraces his steps as far as Hera- 
clea in Thrace, where he leaves his former road, passing 
through Macedonia to Thessalonica, and thence to Italy, 
where he visited Brundusium, Capua, and Rome, and thence 
returned to Milan. 

* This date is fixed by a statement of the writer of the Itinerary : — 
** Item ambulavimus Dalmatio et Dalmaticei Zenophilo cons. iii. Kal. Jun. a 
Kalcidonia, et reversi sumiis ad Constantinopolim vii. Kalend. Jan. consule 
snprascripto." We know from the historians that Flavins Valerius Dal- 
matius (brother of the emperor Constantine) and Marcus Aurelius Xeno- 
philus were consuls together in 333. 


Althougli this Itinerary has come down to us as a solitary- 
narrative, we learn from the writings of some of the Greek 
fathers, that pilgrimages to the Holy Land had already, at 
that period, become so frequent as to lead to many abuses ; 
and the early saints' lives have been the means of preserving 
to us brief notices of some of the adventures of the pilgrims, 
which are obscured by the incredible miracles with which 
those narratives abound. St. Porphyry, a Greek ecclesiastic 
of the end of the fourth century, after living five years as a 
hermit in the Thebaid of Egypt, went with his disciple Mar- 
cus to Jerusalem, visited the holy places, settled there, and 
finally became bishop of Gaza. St. Eusebius of Cremona, 
and his friend St. Jerome, embarked at Porto, in Italy, in June 
385, in company with a great number of other pilgrims, and 
in the midst of tempests passed the Ionian Sea and the Cy- 
clades to Cyprus, where they were received by St. Epiphanius. 
They went thence to Antioch, where they were welcomed by 
St. Paulinus, who was bishop of that city, and from thence they 
proceeded to Jerusalem. After passing some time in the holy 
city, and visiting the surrounding country, they went to Egypt, 
to visit the hermits of the Thebaid, and then returning, they 
took up their abode at Bethlehem, where they founded a 
monastery. Nearly at the same time, St. Paula, with her 
daughter, left Rome for Syria, and landed at Sidon, where 
she visited the tower of Elijah. At Caesarea she saw the 
house of the centurion Cornelius, which was changed into a 
church, and the house of St. Philip, with the chambers of 
his four daughters. Near Jerusalem she beheld the tomb of 
Helena, queen of Adiabene. The governor of Palestine, who 
was acquainted with the family of St. Paula, prepared to re- 
ceive her in Jerusalem with due honours, but she preferred 
taking up her abode in a small cell, and she hastened to visit 
all the holy objects with which she was now surrounded. She 
went first to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, where she 
prostrated herself before the true cross, and entered the 
sepulchre itself, after having kissed the stone which the 
angels had taken from the entrance. On Mount Sion, she 
was shown the column to which Christ was bound when 
scourged, and which then sustained the gallery of a church. 
She saw also the spot where the Holy Ghost had de- 
iscended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. She thence 
went to Bethlehem, visiting on the way tlie sepulchre of 


Eachel. At Bethlehem she descended into the grotto of the 
Nativity. She next visited the tower of Ader of the Flocks. 
At Bethphage, she saw the sepulchre of Lazarus, and the 
house of Martha and Mary; on Mount Ephraim, she was 
shown the sepulchre of Joshua, and of the high priest Eleazar; 
at Sichem, she entered the church huilt over the well of Jacob, 
where our Saviour spoke to the Samaritan woman ; she next 
visited the sepulchres of the twelve patriarchs ; and, at Se- 
baste, or Samaria, she saw those of Elisha and Abdias, 
as well as that of St. John the Baptist. To the latter were 
brought, from all parts, people possessed with demons, to be 
cured. St. Paula went subsequently to Egypt, to visit the 
hermits of the desert, whence she returned to Bethlehem, 
w4iere she built cells and hospitals for pilgrims, and there 
she lived in retirement till her death -i'. St. Antoninus visited 
the Holy Land early in the seventh century ; his life contains 
some absurd legendary stories relating to the cross, which he 
saw in the church of Golgotha ; and he tells that there stood 
on one part of Mount Sion an " idol of the Saracens," made 
of very white marble (no doubt an ancient sepulchre), which, 
at the time of the festival of that idol, suddenly became 
black as pitch, and after the festival was restored to its ori- 
ginal colour. At Nazareth, St. Antoninus praises the beauty 
of the Jewish women who resided there ; and he tells us that 
the land round that place was prodigiously fertile, and that it 
produced excellent wine, oil, and honey. The millet grew 
there to a greater height than elsewhere, and the straw was 
stronger. After visiting all the holy places, St. Antoninus, 
like all the other pilgrims who went to the east before the 
conquests of the Saracens, repaired to Egypt, to visit the her- 
mits of the Thebaid. He landed at Alexandria, a very fine 
city, the people of which were light in disposition, but friendly 
to the travellers who came thither. He saw there, in the 
Nile, a multitude of crocodiles, a great number of which were 
collected together in a pond. Perhaps this was some remnant 
of the ancient worship of the Egyptians. On his return to 
Jerusalem, St. Antoninus fell sick, and was received into a 

* St. Jerome, in one of his Epistles, has given ns the history of the ad- 
ventures of St. Paula. The lives of the other saints mentioned here will be 
found in the large collection of the Bollandists. The abstract given here is 
taken from the Essay on Early Pilgrimages, by the Baron Walckenaer, in- 
serted in Michaud's History of the Crusades. 


hospital destined for poor pilgrims ; lie tlien went into Meso- 
potamia, and returned by sea to Italy, his native country. 

Soon after this period, the circumstances of the pilgrims 
who arrived in the Holy Land were entirely changed, in con- 
sequence of the conquests of the Saracens, who, under Omar, 
obtained possession of Jerusalem in 637, by a capitulation, 
however, which allowed them the use of their churches on 
payment of a tribute, but forbade them to build new ones. 
This interdiction could not be in itself a great grievance, for 
the whole of Palestine must have been literally covered with 
churches when it passed under the Mohammedan yoke. The 
conquerors soon saw that greater advantages would be reaped 
by preserving the holy places, and encouraging pilgrimage, 
than by destroying them ; many of them, indeed their own 
creed taught them, were to be considered as objects of reve- 
rence ; and thus for two or three centuries the Christians of 
the west continued to flock to the Holy Sepulchre as nume- 
rously as before, subject, perhaps, to not much greater taxation 
at the holy places than in former times, but exposed on their 
way to more or less insult and oppression, according to the 
political or local circumstances of the moment. 

Not many years after it had thus fallen under the power of 
the Arabs, the Holy Land was visited by a French bishop 
named Arculf, whose narrative stands at the head of the 
present volume. The French antiquaries have not been 
able to discover of what see Arculf was bishop, or when he 
lived ; and all that is known of him is the statement of 
Adamnan, who wrote down his narrative, that on his return 
from the east he was carried by contrary winds to the shores 
of Britain, and that he was received at lona. We learn 
from Bede-'s that Adamnan visited the court of the Northum- 
brian king Aldfrid, and that he then presented to the king 
his book on the Holy Places, which he had taken down from 
the dictation of bishop Arculf The visit to king Aldfrid is 
generally placed in 703, but by an apparent misunderstanding 
of the words of Bede, and it is probable that it occurred at 
least as early as 701 f. The pilgrimage of Arculf must thus 
have taken place in the latter part of the seventh century. 
In relating a miracle concerning the sudarium or napkin 
taken from the head of our Saviour (which has not been 

* Bede, Hist. Eccl. v. 15. 

f See my Biographia Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Saxon period, p. 202. 


thought worth retaining in the present translation), Arculf is 
made to speak of " Majuvias, king of the Saracens," as having 
lived in his time-''^, and the character of the story leaves no 
doubt that the king referred to was Moawiyah, the first khalif 
of the dynasty of the Ommiades, who reigned from 661 to 
679. I am inclined to think that Arculf s visit to Jerusalem 
must be placed not long after this khalif s death. 

Arculf 's travels, having been reduced to a sort of treatise 
by Adamnan, do not always present the exact form of a 
personal narrative, and we cannot trace his course from his 
native land as we do those of most subsequent travellers. 
He seems to have followed in the steps of the more ancient 
pilgrims, and his visit to Egypt, with the avowal of his voy- 
ages up the Nile, can only be explained on the supposition 
that he also went to visit the Coptic monks of the Desert, 
who had been allowed to remain there, tributary to their 
Arabian conquerors. He either derived little satisfaction 
from this visit, or Adamnan considered it as having no 
interest for his countrymen; and we find no allusion to the 
Egyptian monks in the later pilgrimages. Arculf speaks of 
no difficulties he had to encounter, and his narrative is of 
especial interest, from the circumstance of his visiting the 
country when all the buildings of the Koman age were still 

The narrative of bishop Arculf, besides its intrinsic value 
as a minute and accurate description of localities and monu- 
ments at this interesting period, is of especial importance to 
us, because, through the abridgment made by Bede, it be- 
came the text book on this subject among the Anglo-Saxons, 
and led to that passion for pilgrimages with which they were 
soon afterwards seized, and which was not uncongenial to the 
character of that people whose adventurous steps have since 
been carried into every corner of the world. 

Among the Anglo-Saxons who followed the example of 
Arculf, one of the most remarkable, and the earliest of whose 
adventures we have any account, was Willibald, a kinsman, 
it is said, of the great Boniface, and a native of the kingdom 
of Wessex, probably of Hampshire. His father, who appears 
to have been of high rank, w^as honoured wdth a place in 
the Roman calendar, under the title of St. Richard. Pie, 
with his two sons, Willibald and Wunibald, and a daughter, 

* Majuvias, Saracenorum rex, qui nostra setate fuit, judex postulates. 


afterwards so celebrated under the name of St. Walpurgis, 
left England probably in the year 718, and travelled through 
the land of the Franks on their way to Italy. At Lucca, 
Willibald's father sickened and died ; and, having buried him, 
the three children reached Rome in safety, but there they 
were seized with a severe fever, on their recovery from which 
Willibald determined to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 
I have fixed the date of his departure to the year 721, be- 
cause that would place his departure from Tyre on his way 
to Constantinople, in 724; and I have stated on another 
occasion 'i^, that it is in the highest degree probable that the 
difficulties Willibald and his companions experienced in ob- 
taining a passport, and the troubles they met with in their 
departure from Syria, were coincident with the persecution of 
the Christian churches in that country in the year just alluded 
to, when the khalif Yezid II., at the end of his reign, had 
been instigated by the Jews to publish an edict against the 
paintings in the churches of his Christian subjects, in conse- 
quence of which many of the latter fled their homes. After the 
death of Yezid, hostilities recommenced between the Greeks 
and the Arabs, and continued during many years ; and it is 
evident that the two countries were not yet at war w^hen 
the pilgrims left. At the same time, the whole tenor of the 
narrative shows that they quitted Syria on account of some 
sudden change in the internal state of the country, and that 
they Avere anxious to get away, for they came to Tyre at the 
wrong season of the year for making the voyage to Con- 
stantinople, and they sailed in rough and tempestuous wea- 
ther. In 740 or 741, Willibald was consecrated bishop of 
Eichstadt, being then forty-one years of age. He died, it 
is supposed, in the year 786. His life was written before 
his death, by a nun of Heidenheim, of whose name we are 
ignorant, but who was his kinswoman, and who took dow^n the 
account of his travels, as she avows, from his own mouth. 

The war with the Greeks did not, however, put a stop 
to pilgrimages from the west, but the travellers now seem to 
have been obliged to pass by way of Egypt. The geographer, 
Dicuil, in his treatise De Mensura Orbis Terrce, which he 
wrote at a very advanced age, in 825, tells us, when speaking 
of Egypt, that when a youth at school in France, he heard 
a monk named Fidelis give an account of his travels in Egypt 
* See the Biographia Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Saxon period, p. 341. 342. 


and the Holy Land, to his master, Suibneus, and, from the 
accuracy with which he cites it, he must have taken notes at 
the time. He says, that FideHs went with a party of pil- 
grims, clerks and laymen, w^ho sailed direct to the mouth of 
the Nile, no doubt to Alexandria. Proceeding up the Nile a 
long way, they were struck with astonishment at the sight of 
the seven "barns" {horrea), built by Joseph, according to 
the number of the years of abundance, which looked at a 
distance like mountains, four in one place, and three in 
another. Curiosity led them to visit the group of three, and 
near them they found a lion, and eight men and women, all 
lying dead; "the lion had slain them by its strength, and 
they had killed the lion with their spears and swords, for the 
places occupied by both these groups of barns are deserts." 
They found that these buildings, in their w^hole elevation,, 
were of stone ; at the bottom they were square, in the upper 
part round, and twisted at the summit in a spire. Fidelis 
measured the side of one from one angle to the other, and 
found it to be four hundred feet. Then, entering their ships 
in the river Nile, they navigated direct to the entrance of the 
Bed Sea, where they entered a port, not far to the east of 
which was the spot where Moses passed on dry land. FideUs 
wished to go to this place, where he expected to see the 
traces of Pharaoh's chariot w^heels, but he could not prevail 
with the sailors to turn away from their own course. He 
observed, however, that the sea appeared there to be about 
six miles across. They sailed thence, without loss of time, 
along the western part of the Eed Sea, or that part w'hich 
extends itself in a gulf or bay far to the north. From thence 
w^e are left to suppose that they proceeded to Palestine --'. The 
barns of Joseph were of course the pyramids, with respect to 
the form of the upper part of which the pilgrim might easily 
have been deceived ; but it will be at once evident to any 
one acquainted with the geography of Egypt, that the channel 
by which he passed in a ship from the Nile to the Pied Sea, 
was the ancient canal of Hadrian. This canal is said to 
have been repaired, and rendered navigable by the Arabs, 
not long after they had rendered themselves masters of 
Egypt, but we know that it was finally blocked up by the 
khalif Abu Giafar Almansor, in 767, to hinder provisions 
from being sent to the people of Mecca and Medina, who had 
* Dicuil, De Mensuia Orbis, yi. 3, ed. Letronne. 


revolted against his authority. It was therefore previous to 
this date that Fidelis visited Egypt. 

Peace, broken immediately after the departure of Willi- 
bald, was not restored till the learned reign of the magnifi- 
cent Haroun-er-Raschid (786-809), whose name, and his 
friendship and intercourse with the no less splendid monarch 
of the west, Charlemagne, have been so often celebrated in 
history and romance. Their friendship led to the opening 
of Palestine to the Christian pilgrims on much more liberal 
terms, and various privileges and comforts were secured for 
them in the holy city. Pilgrimages now became more fre- 
quent, and several are mentioned during the latter part of 
the eighth and the course of the ninth centuries. 

The only one of these pilgrims whose own account of his 
adventures has been preserved, was a Breton monk, evidently 
of the celebrated monastery of Mount St. Michel, named 
Bernard, who is distinguished in the manuscripts by the 
title of Bernardus Sapiens, or Bernard the Wise, although we 
have no other testimony to his wisdom except the account of 
his pilgrimage. This very curious narrative was discovered 
by Mabillon, in a manuscript of the library of PJieims, and 
printed in the Acta Sanctorum Ordinis Benedictini. Bernard 
has given, at the commencement of this narrative, the date of 
the year in which he started. In Mabillon 's text, and in a 
manuscript of the Cottonian Library, now lost, it is 870 ; 
while in another manuscript of the Cottonian Library, still 
existing, it is given as 970. Internal evidence at once fixes 
the date of Bernard's pilgrimage to the ninth century, and not 
to the tenth ; and as it is evident that he was at Bari before 
the siege by Louis 11. , we can have little hesitation in con- 
sidering both the dates given by the manuscripts as errors of 
the scribes, and in fixing Bernard's departure to the year 867. 

Bernard left Europe at a time w^hen the Saracens of the 
west were engaged in hostility with the Christians, and he 
was obliged to furnish himself with a variety of protections. 
Although he points at the disadvantageous contrast between 
the barbarity and turbulence of the western Christians and 
the well regulated government of the Arabs in the east, it is 
quite evident that a change had taken place in the condition 
of the Christians in Syria, and that the pilgrims no longer 
enjoyed the immunities obtained for them by the emperor 
Charlemagne. They now, on the contrary, seem to have been 


subjected to extortions on every side. Bernard, like Fidelis, 
went by way of Egypt, and proceeded thence into Palestine 
by land. He is the first traveller who mentions the afterwards 
celebrated miracle of the holy fire. At Jerusalem Bernard 
lodged in the hostle which had been founded by Charlemagne, 
and which was still appropriated to its original destination. 

Somewhere near this period a noble Breton of the name of 
Frotmond, who, with his brother, had committed one of those 
deeds of blood which so often stain the history of the middle 
ages, was condemned by the church to a penance, not un- 
common in those times. A chain was close riveted round 
his body and his arms ; and in this condition, covered only 
with a coarse garment, his head sprinkled with ashes, he was 
to visit, bare-foot, the holy places, and wander about until God 
should deign to relieve him of his burthen. In the fourth 
year of his wanderings he returned to France, and went to the 
monastery of Redon, where he was miraculously delivered 
from his chains, which had already eaten deep into his flesh, 
at the tomb of St. Marcellinus. The account of his pilgrimage 
was collected from the traditions of the monastery long after 
Frotmond's death, by one of the monks. It is said that he and 
his brethren went direct to the coast of Syria, and made some 
stay at Jerusalem, practising there all kinds of austerities. 
They next went into Egypt, and took up their abode among 
the monks of the Thebaid, and then went to pray at the tomb 
of St. Cyprian, on the sea-coast, two leagues from Carthage. 
They then returned to Rome ; but still not obtaining pardon 
of the pope (Benedict III.), they again passed the sea to 
Jerusalem, from whence they went to Cana, in Galilee, and 
then they directed their course to the Red Sea. They next 
proceeded to the mountains of Armenia, and visited the spot 
where Noah's ark rested after the deluge. On their way they 
suffered all kinds of outrages from the infidels, who stripped 
them naked and scourged them cruelly. This, however, did 
not turn them from their purpose, and they went subsequently to 
Mount Sinai, v/here they remained three years, and so returned 
to Italy, and thence to France. Frotmond started on his wan- 
derings in the year 868. 

Other pilgrimages are mentioned as having taken place 
before the end of the ninth century, at which time new wars 
broke out between the Greeks and the Saracens, in the course 
of which the whole of Judea was taken from the Mohamme- 


dans by the emperor John Zimisces, and the holy places were 
again thrown open to pilgrims from all parts. On the death 
of Zimisces, in 976, the Greek empire again smik into weak- 
ness, and Palestine was snatched from them by the Fatimite 
khalifs of Egypt, whose policy it was at first to treat the 
Christians with lenity, seek commercial relations with the 
Franks, and encourage the pilgrimages to the holy places. 
But all these fair prospects were soon cut short by the acces- 
sion to the throne of Hakem, the third khalif of the Fatimite 
dynasty, who threw his kingdom into confusion by his cruel 
despotism, and who made the unfortunate Christians feel 
the whole weight of his fury. They were everywhere 
oppressed and massacred, their churches were taken from 
them, profaned, and destroyed, and the holy places were 
deserted. During the whole of the eleventh century the 
Christians of Syria were thus treated with every kind of 
indignity. Pilgrims still made their way to Jerusalem, and a 
great number of brief notices of their adventures are preserved 
by the numerous writers of the age ; but they brought back 
with thom little more than complaints of the profanations to 
which the holy places were exposed, and of the wretched con- 
dition to which their brothers in faith had been reduced. The 
celebrated Gerbert, afterwards pope, under the name of 
Sylvestre II., was one of the first who made the pilgrimage 
during the persecutions of Hakem; and on his return, in 986, 
he published a letter, in which he made Jerusalem deplore 
her misfortunes, and supplicated the whole Christian world to 
come to her aid. The French and the Italians were excited 
to vengeance, and they began to make pilgrimages in armed 
bodies, and even to attack the coasts of Syria. This only 
served to exasperate their enemies, who interdicted the 
Christians in their dominions from the exercise of their 
religion, took from them their churches, which they profaned 
by turning them into stables and to still more degrading pur- 
poses, and threw down the church of the Sepulchre, and the 
other sacred places in Jerusalem, in 1008. According to the 
best authorities the church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt 
by Hakem's grandson, Al-Mostanser-Billah, between 1046 and 
1048, in consequence of a treaty with the Byzantine emperor. 
The news of these events threw all Christian Europe into 
consternation, and excited everywhere the desire for vengeance 
on the infidels ; but it increased the eagerness for pilgrimage, 


and, in spite of all the insults and perils to which they were 
exposed, devotees of all ranks and conditions made their way 
to Jerusalem in crowds. New revolutions were, however, 
taking place there; for another people, the Seldjouk Turks, 
having rendered themselves masters of Persia, and established 
there a new dynasty of monarchs, the iVbassides, passed for- 
wards into Mesopotamia, and then conquered Syria from the 
Fatimites. The Seldjouks took Jerusalem in 1071, massacred 
both Saracens and Christians, and delivered up to pillagers 
the mosques as well as the churches. The fate of the pilgrims 
under the new rulers of Palestine was more deplorable than 
ever. They were not allowed to enter the gates of Jerusalem 
without payment of a very heavy tax ; and, as most of them 
had been plundered on the way, if they had anything to 
tempt the merciless rapacity of the infidels, the greater part 
remained outside, to perish by hunger or by the sword. Those 
who gained admission into the city only entered to suffer new 
outrages, and, which was still worse, to see everything they 
held most sacred trodden underfoot and defiled by unbelievers. 

The Turks, in their turn, became divided and enfeebled ; 
and the Fatimites made a successful effort to recover their 
power in Syria. In 1096 Jerusalem was delivered, by capitu- 
lation, to the general of the khalif Al-Mostaali-Billeh ; but 
the change of masters seems to have ameliorated in no degree 
the condition of the Christians. 

The cry of the eastern Christians had, however, already 
made itself effectually heard throughout Europe. The voice 
of Peter the Hermit was first raised in 1095, in the November 
of which year he stood by the pope, Urban II., at the council 
of Clermont, and the first crusade was proclaimed. The vast 
army of invaders assembled in the autumn of 109G, traversed 
Europe and Asia Minor, and those who escaped from the ter- 
rible sufferings and losses it experienced on the road reached 
Palestine in 1099, and took Jerusalem by assault on the 15th 
of June. Ten days after the conquerors elected Godfrey of 
Boulogne king of Jerusalem. 

The first pilgrim who followed the crusaders, who has left 
ns a personal narrative, was an Anglo-Saxon named SiEWULF. 
Our only information relating to this personage, beyond what 
is found in his own relation, occurs in a passage of William of 
Malmesbury which appears to relate to him. This writer, in. 

B S 


his History of the English Bishops -'', tells us that Saewulf was 
a merchant who frequently repaired to bishop Wulstan, of 
Worcester, to confess his sins, and as frequently, when his fit 
of penitence was over, returned to his old courses. Wulstan 
advised him to quit the profession in which he met with so 
many temptations, and embrace a monastic life ; and, on bis 
refusal, the bishop prophesied that the time would arrive 
when he would take the habit which he now so obstinately re- 
fused. William of Malmesbury says that he himself witnessed 
the fulfilment of this prediction, when in his old age the mer- 
chant Saewulf became a monk in the abbey of Malmesbury. 
It is fair to suppose that, in a moment of penitence, the mer- 
chant sought to appease the divine wrath by undertaking the 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the road to which had then been 
laid open by the first successes of the crusaders. Nothing in the 
narrative proves that our traveller was a monk. 

The date of Saewulf s voyage has been fixed by his learned 
editor, M. D'Avezac, from internal evidence of the most satis- 
factory kind. Saewulf makes two or three allusions to his- 
torical personages in the course of his adventures. Thus, on 
his arrival at Cephalonia, he informs us that Robert Guiscard 
died there. This celebrated warrior, the first duke of the 
Normans in Italy, the father of the celebrated crusader Bo- 
hemond, prince of Tarentum, was meditating the conquest of 
Greece, when he died, according to some poisoned, in July 
1085 f. Further on Saewulf mentions two Christian princes, dis- 
tinguished by their activity in the first crusade, as still living ; 
Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, and Raymond, duke of Toulouse. 
The first was made king on the 25tli of December, 1100, and 
the latter died on the 28th of February, 1105. Saewulf men- 
tions further, that when he returned from Syria Tortosa was in 
the possession of duke Raymond, while Acre still remained in 
the hands of the Saracens. The latter place was captured 
on the 12th of March, 1102, while Acre did not fall into the 
hands of the Christians till the 15th of May, 1104. Now 
he informs us further that he embarked at Joppa, on his re- 

* W. Malmesbury de Gest. Pontif., p. 282. See also my Biographia Bri- 
tannica Literaria, Anglo-Norraan Period, p. 38. 

f See, on Robert Guiscard, W. Malmesbury, Hist, book iii. pp. 294, 295. 
(Bohn's Antiquarian Library.) 


turn on the day of Pentecost, whicli day in the year 1104 fell on 
the 5th of June, and, as Acre had then heen taken, this could 
not be the year; and we have only to choose between 1102 
and 1103, To remove all doubt on the subject, M. D'Avezac 
points out an element of calculation contained in Ssewulf's text, 
which enables us to fix the exact date of his departure from 
Italy, after having brought it within so small a compass from 
the historical allusions. Saewulf says that he set sail from 
Monopoli on Sunday, the feast of St. Mildred. St. Mildred's 
day is the 13th of July, and that day fell on a Sunday in the 
year 1102. It was, he says, an unlucky day — dies ^gyptlaca, 
and they fell in with a storm which drove them along the 
coast to Brindisi, whence, after a short stay to refit, they 
sailed again on an unlucky day. Now the ordinary formula 
to find the unlucky or Egyptiac days, composed by the medieval 
calculators, give us the 13th and 22nd of July, as falling under 
this character. It was, therefore, the 13th of July, 1102, 
when Ssew^ulf sailed from Monopoli, and the 22nd of the same 
•month when he left Brindisi ; and it was the day of Pentecost, 
1103, when he embarked at Joppa, on his return. These 
dates wdll agree very well with the age of the Saewulf men- 
tioned by William of Malmesbury. 

The events preceding, and connected with the crusades, had 
considerably modified the route followed b}^ the pilgrims in 
their way to Jerusalem. They had previously gone by way of 
Egypt, because it was no doubt safer to pass in ships em- 
ployed in commerce with the Saracens, or to go with Saracenic 
passports from the west, than to encounter the hostile feelings 
with which people were received who came into Syria from 
the neighbouring territory of the Greeks. But now they 
might proceed with greater security through the Christian 
states on the northern shores of the Mediterranean, either 
visiting Constantinople before they proceeded to Jerusalem, 
or, if their eagerness to see the holy city overcame all other 
considerations, sailing along the coast of Greece and through 
the islands of the Archipelago. The latter course was taken 
by Ssewulf ; he sailed from Italy to the Ionian islands; pro- 
ceeded overland to Negropont, where he embarked in another 
ship, and, after touching at several of the islands, proceeded 
along the coast of Asia Minor to Jaffa, whence he travelled by 
land to Jerusalem, reserving his visit to the metropolis of the 
Grecian empire for his return. The narrative appears to 


be truncated, which lias deprived us of Sse owulf'sbservations 
of Constantinople. 

Saswulf s account of the disastrous storm which attended 
their arrival at Jaffa shows us what multitudes of pilgrims 
now crowded to the Holj Land. Among these were people 
of all classes, rich and poor, noble and ignoble, laymen 
equally with monks and clergy. Some went in humility and 
meekness to visit the scene of their salvation, while others, 
embarking with crews of desperate marauders, although they 
went to the Holy City with the same professions, proceeded as 
privateers, or rather as pirates, plundering and devastating on 
their way. Among this latter class the descendants of the 
sea-kings of the north appear to have been especially dis- 
tinguished, and the Scandinavian sagas have preserved more 
than one narrative, half authentic and half romantic, of their 
adventures. Jt has been thought advisable to give, as a speci- 
men of these, the story of Sigurd the Crusader, a northern 
prince, whose presence at the capture of Beyrout, in 1110, is 
mentioned by William of Tyre. 

The land of Palestine was at this time beginning to attract, 
in an unusual degree, the attention of another class of travellers 
from western Europe — learned men of the Jewish nation — who 
were anxious to discover and to make known to their brethren 
the condition of the various synagogues in the East, after so 
many sanguinary revolutions, as well as to visit the burial- 
places of the eminent Hebrews of former days. Several of 
their relations, written in Hebrew, are still preserved in manu- 
script, and a few have been printed -:-. The earliest of these 
of any importance is that of Benjamin of Tudela. We 
have an "Itinerary of Palestine " made by Samuel bar Simson 
in 1210; a " Description of the Sacred Tombs " by a Jew of 
Paris named Jacob, in 1258 ; and several tracts of the same 
kind in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

Mr. Asher, to whom we owe the best edition of Benjamin 
of Tudela, has fixed the date of Benjamin's travels from his own 
narrative with great acuteness. It appears from different cir- 
cumstances to which he alludes, that his visit to Rome must 

* An interesting volume of these narratives, translated into French, and 
accompanied with valuable notes, has recently been published under the 
title, " Itineraires de la Terre Sainte des xiii^ xiv^, xv^, xvi^, and xvii^ siecles, 
traduits de V Hebreu, par E. Carmoly," Brussels, 1847. 


have taken place subsequent to 1159, that he was at Con- 
stantinople probably in December 1161, and that his account 
of Egypt, which almost concludes the work, must have been 
written prior to 1171^. "If we add to these dates," Mr. 
Asher observes, " that of his return, as given in the preface, 
we shall find that the narrative refers to a period of about 
fourteen years, viz. from 1159 or 1160, to 1173." To tbese 
dates pointed out by Mr. Asher, it may be added, that he ap- 
pears to have been at Antioch immediately after the accession 
of Bohemond III. in 1163 ; and that he probably reached 
Siciiy, on his way back, early in 1169. By comparing these 
dates with the general course of the narrative, I have en- 
deavoured to arrange with tolerable accuracy the successive 
years of Benjamin's wanderings; the dates of which are given 
at the heads of the pages. 

Rabbi Benjamin is the first European traveller whom we 
find taking a wider circuit in his travels than that which 
would have been restricted by the limits of Christian or 
Jewish pilgrimage. As Mr. Asher observes, he appears 
evidently to have been a merchant, and hence, though the 
object most at his heart seems to have been to note the num- 
ber and condition of the Jews in the different countries he 
visited, he has preserved some valuable information relating 
to their trade and commerce at that period, and, in spite of 
some credulity, and an evident love of the marvellous, he de- 
scribes what he saw with more good sense and accuracy than 
the Christian travellers of the same age. Benjamin, who 
was a Jew of Spain, began his travels from Saragossa, and 
proceeded through Italy and Greece to Constantinople, which 
city he describes at considerable length. He proceeded tbence, 
by the Greek Islands, to Antioch, and thence through Syria, 
by Acre and Nablous, to Jerusalem. From Jerusalem he 
went to Damascus, and from thence to Bagdad, but his route 
here and elsewhere appears to have been far from direct, as 
we often trace him moving backwards and forwards, to obtain 
information, or visit districts that lay out of the ordinary road. 
Th6 actual extent of his wanderings towards the East appears 
doubtful; but it is certain he remained at Bagdad and in Per- 
sia two or three years, and he returned by way of Arabia and 

* For these dates seethenotes on pp. 67, 75, and 119 of the present volume. 
See the notes on pp. 78, 124. 


Nubia to Egypt. From Egypt lie returned to Sicily, and 
he then made a tour in Germany before his final return home. 
Mr. Asher observes that there is "one very peculiar feature " 
in this work, by which its contents are divided into luhat he 
saiv, and what he heard. " In many towns, on the route from 
Saragossa to Bagdad, rabbi Benjamin mentions the names of 
the principal Jews, elders, and wardens of the congregations 
he met with. That a great number of the persons enumerated b^^ 
rabbi Benjamin really were his contemporaries ; and that the 
particulars be incidentally mentions of them are corroborated 
by other authorities, has iDeen proved in the biographical notes 
furnished by Dr. Zunz. We therefore do not hesitate to 
assert that rabbi Benjamin visited all those towns of which he 
names the elders and principals, and that the first portion of 
his narrative comprises an account of ivhat he saw. But with 
Gihiagin, the very first stage beyond Bagdad, all such notices 
cease, and except those of two princes and of two rabbis, we 
look in vain for any other names. So very remarkable a dif- 
ference between this and the preceding part of the work leads 
us to assert that rabbi Benjamin's travels did not extend beyond 
Bagdad, and that he there wrote down the second portion of 
our work, consisting of ivhat he heard. Bagdad, at his time 
the seat of the prince of the Captivity, must have attracted 
numerous Jewish pilgrims from all regions, and, beyond doubt, 
was the fittest place for gathering those notices of the Jews 
and of trade in difi'erent parts of the world, the collecting 
of which was the aim of rabbi Benjamin's labours." It may 
be observed, further, that the information he thus collected 
agrees in general with that furnished by the contemporary 
Arabian geographers. 

The travels of rabbi Benjamin had little, if any, influence 
on the state of geographical science amongst the Christians of 
the west; but a variety of causes — the thirst for novelty in 
science excited by the educational movement of the tw^elfth 
century, scattered information, gleaned from an increased in* 
tercourse with the Arabs, and the adventurous spirit raised by 
a hundred years of crusades — were now combining to render 
them every day more eager for information relating to distant 
lands, and this spirit received a new impulse from the asto- 
nishment and terror excited by the incursions of the Tartars 
in the earlier half of the thirteenth century. Shrewd and 
intelligent men were sent out by the monarchs of the west, 


nominally as ambassadors, but really as spies, to ascertain 
who these dreaded invaders were, and whence they came, and 
to report on their strength and character. These envoys met 
at the court of the khan men of distant, and, to* them, un- 
known countries, from whom they collected information re- 
lating to the central and eastern parts of Asia. Among the 
first of these envoys was John du Plan de Carpin, an Italian 
friar of the order of St. Francis, sent out by Pope Innocent IV., 
in the spring of 1245. He was followed immediately by Simon 
de St. Quentin, a Dominican monk, also sent by the pope ; 
and a year or two later, in 1253, by William de Rubruk, an- 
other Franciscan, sent on an embassy to the Tartars by St. 
Louis. These, as well as other missionaries of the same cen- 
tury, have left behind them interesting narratives, several of 
which are preserved, and some of them are well known. 
Merchants, led by the hope of gain, followed in the steps of, 
and even preceded, the political or religious missionaries, and 
their objects being less restricted, they often penetrated into 
the remotest regions of Asia, where they sometimes settled, 
and rose to rank and wealth. One of these, an Italian named 
Marco Polo, on his return, after a long residence in Asia, 
in the middle of the thirteenth century, published the well 
known narrative, which conduced, more than any other work, 
to the development of geographical science, and which first 
gave the grand impulse to geographical research, that led to 
the more extensive and substantial knowledge which began to 
dawn in the following century. 

From this time, although short descriptions of the Holy 
Land became more numerous than ever, travellers who pub- 
lished their personal narratives w^ere seldom contented with 
the old limits of the subject, but they either visited them- 
selves, or described from the information of others, some at 
least of the surrounding countries. This was carried at times 
almost to the extreme of affectation. A remarkable example 
is furnished to us in the book of Sir John Maundeville. 
This singular writer, more credulous than the most bigotted 
monk, appears to have visited the east mth the double object 
of performing the pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, and of 
seeking military service in foreign lands. Professedly a guide 
to pilgrims to Jerusalem, to which a large portion of the book 
is devoted, it contains, nevertheless, the description of nearly 
the whole of Asia, and of some parts of Africa and Europe, 


and extends to countries which its author visited and to 
many others which he certainly did not visit. From the rather 
equivocal light in which he exhibits himself, and the peculiar 
form of his work, it is impossible to trace the course of his 
travels, hut he assures us that he set out from England in 
1322, and that he returned home and compiled his book in 
1356. It appears clear, from evidence furnished by the book 
itself, that Maundeville was in Egypt for some time previous 
to the year 1342-5^, and a closer examination would probably 
fixthe date of his presence in some other countries. But there 
can be no doubt that his book is partly a compilation, for we 
find him not only borrowing from ancient writers, like Soli- 
nus and Pliny, but it is quite evident that he made large use 
of the previous narratives of Marco Polo and of the Fran- 
ciscan Oderic, who had travelled over a great part of Asia in 
the earlier years of the fourteenth century, and had published 
his account during Maundeville's absence in the east. It 
would not be difficult to analyze a great portion of Maun- 
deville's book, and show from whence it was compiled. 

It is now generally agreed that Marco Polo originally wrote the 
account of his travels in the French language, from which it 
was subsequently translated into Latin and Italian. French 
had now, indeed, become the general language of popular 
treatises, and it seems to be equally well established that in 
it was written the original text of Maundeville, who states ex- 
pressly in the French copies preserved in manuscript, that 
he chose French in preference to Latin, as a language more 
generally understood, " especially by lords and knights, and 
others who understand not Latin." f We learn, from the 
colophon to some of the Latin copies, that he was at this 
time residing at Liege, where he is said to have ended his 
days, and that he soon afterwards translated his own book 
into Latin. An English version, said to be also from the pen 
of Maundeville himself, appeared soon afterwards, and the 
three versions must have become extremely popular within 

* See the note, p. 146 of the present volume. 
. f " Et sachiez que je eusse mis ce livre en Latin pour plus briefment 
deviser; mais pour ce que plusieurs entendent mieux Fran(jais que Latin, 
I'ai-je mis en Hommant a celle fin que chascun I'entende, et les seigneurs et 
chevaliers et aultres qui n'entendent pas le Latin." See on this subject, 
and on Maundeville's narrative, M. D'Avezac's preface to his edition of "Plan 
de Carpin/' pp. 29—33. 


a few years after their publication, from the number of early 
copies that are still found among our various collections of 
manuscripts. The travels of Sir John Maundeville form, per- 
haps, the most popular work of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries, and it continued long afterwards to be read eagerly 
in a variety of forms. Yet all we know of him with any cer- 
tainty is his own statement that he was a native of St. 
Albans, — the rest of his biography, as commonly given, is a 
mere tissue of errors. Bale tells us that he died at Liege, 
on the 17th of November, 1371, and that he was buried there 
in the abbey of the Guillamites. Abraham Orbelius, in his 
" Itinerarium Belgiae," gives an epitaph from that abbey, 
which appears to be a comparatively recent fabrication. One 
of the manuscripts, written in the fifteenth century, (MS. 
Harl. 3989,) says that Maundeville died at Liege in 1382. 

Contemporary with Maundeville lived a German named 
variously Boldensel, Boldensle, and Boldenslave, who visited 
the east in 1336, and, on his return, published a description 
of the Holy Land, of which there is an early printed edition. 
It had been preceded by the description of the Holy Land 
by Brochard, published in 1332. From this time the nar- 
ratives of travels in Palestine became much more nume- 
rous and more detailed, and I shall not attempt even a bare 
enumeration. The majority of them consist of little more 
than a repetition of the same facts and the same legends. 
Some, however, are far superior to the rest, by the in- 
terest of the narrative, and the novelty of the information 
gathered by the traveller. Two, belonging to the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, stand pre-eminent in this respect, 
the narratives of Breydenbach and Kauwulf, which merit 
separate publication. I have selected to follow sir John 
Maundeville, the travels of Bertkandon de la Brocquiere, 
on account of their peculiar character. 

The Turks, who were gradually overthrowing the empire of 
the Arabs in the east, were becoming formidable to the Chris- 
tians also towards the end of the fourteenth century. Since 
the time of Brochard, who had written expressly to shov>^ how 
the east lay open to an attack from the Christians, several 
attempts had been made to raise a new crusade. La Broc- 
quiere, like Maundeville, was a knight, and he held the high 
position of counsellor and first esquire carver to the duke of 


Burgundy. As was the case with so many others of his own 
class, his pilgrimage to Jerusalem was the result of a vow, but 
the curiosity and ardour of the man-at-arms were perhaps 
more powerful in him than the mere calls of religion. Pie 
left Burgundy in the February of 1482, in company with other 
^reat lords of that country, passed through Italy by way of 
Home to Venice, and there embarked and proceeded by sea 
to Jaffa. But when this holy pilgrimage was completed, as 
far as lay in his power to perform it, he undertook a pilgrimage 
of another kind, and in order to observe the manners and con- 
dition of the Turks, who were already threatening Constan- 
tinople, he formed the bold scheme of returning to France 
overland, which would lead him to traverse the western part 
of Asia and eastern Europe. The notices he has given us of 
the countries through which he passed, some of them but im- 
perfectly known even at present, combined with the interest- 
ing period at which the journey was made, give an especial 
importance to this narrative, which is marked by the accuracy 
and good sense of its writer, and exhibits none of the cre- 
dulity of previous travellers. On his return to the court of 
Burgundy, La Brocquiere's appearance excited great interest, 
and duke Philip began to talk loudly of his intention to lead 
a crusade against the Infidels. It was probably to further 
his object that La Brocquiere compiled his narrative, which 
was published in French, soon after the year 1488, to which 
date he alludes in his text. The state of Europe, howevei% 
was not now favourable to a crusade, and the duke's designs 
never went further than a few empty proclamations, and some 
equally fruitless feasting and pageantry. The Turks were al- 
lowed to pursue their conquests, and the victorious Moham- 
med 11. became master of Constantinople in the May of 

Our notices of the medieval travellers would properly conclude 
here. A new era was opening upon the west as well as upon the 
east, and the last breath of the spirit of the crusades died, as 
the system which had nourished it sunk before the great reli- 
gious Reformation of the sixteenth century. Instead of monks 
and soldiers, Europe, more enlightened, began soon after- 
wards to send merchants, and consuls, and ambassadors. A 
clearer and more satisfactory light was now thrown on the 
geography of the Holy Land. The English traveller in 


Palestine of most authority in the seventeenth century was 
Sandys, who, however, often erred on the side of credulity. 
Before the end of the century came the well known Henry 
Maundrell, who, on account of the brevity of his narrative 
and the extreme accuracy of his descriptions, has been selected 
to conclude the present volume. We know little more of 
Maundrell than that he was a fellow of Exeter College, Ox- 
ford, which he left to take the appointment of chaplain to the 
English factory at Aleppo. It is not within our province to 
notice the works of subsequent travellers. 

It will be necessary to make some statement to our readers 
of the manner in which the present volume has been edited, 
and of the sources from which the different works it contains 
have been derived. 

Tiie travels of bishop Arcalf, (as compiled by Adamnan,) as 
well as those of Bernard the Wise, and the life of Willibald, 
were printed in the Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti, Ssec. 
III., Part II., in 1672. A previous edition of Arculf had been 
published in a small quarto volume, Ingoldstadt, 1619, which 
also contained the abridgment by Bede. The latter, under 
the title oi Lihellus deLocis Sanctis, is included in the different 
editions of Bede's works, and will be found in the recent 
edition by Dr. Giles, accompanied with an English transla- 
tion. Another edition of the narrative of Bernard was pub- 
lished from a manuscript in the Cottonian Library in the 
British Museum by M. Francisqae Michel, in the Memoirs of 
the Society of Geography at Paris. M. Michel's text is in 
many respects inferior to that of Mabillon, but it contains the 
concluding paragraphs relating to the state of society in 
Egypt, Italy, and France, which were wanting in the manu- 
script from which Mabillon printed. But the new editor, 
M. Michel, has fallen into a very grave error ; for the treatise 
of Bede, De Locis Sanctis, following in the Cottonian manu- 
script the tract of Bernard, he has mistaken them for one 
continued treatise, and printed them as such, accusing Ma- 
billon of having printed only one half of his author. The 
narrative of Ssewulf, the only manuscript of which is pre- 
served in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 
was published in the collection of the French Geographical 
Society by M. D'Avezac, from a transcript furnished by the 
editor of the present volume. M. D'Avezac has executed his 


task of editing with remarkable care a.nd discrimination, but 
I fear that the transcript was in two or three instances inac- 
curate, and at the time of publication it was unfortunately 
not in the power of M. D'Avezac to have it collated with the 
original. One omission of some importance for the architec- 
tural history of the church of the Holy Sepulchre was very 
kindly pointed out to me by Professor Willis, and has been 
corrected in the translation. In describing this church, the text 
as printed by M. D'Avezac contains the words, " Tsta oratoria 
sanctissima continentur in atrio Dominici sepulchri ad orien- 
talem plagam. In lateribus autem ipsius ecclesiae suae capellse 
sibi adhaerent prseclarissimae hinc inde, sicut ipsi participes 
Dominicae passionis sibi in lateribus constiterunt hinc inde." 
In the original manuscript the passage stands thus, and is 
rendered intelligible — " Ista oratoria sanctissima continentur 
in atrio Dominici sepulchri ad orientalem plagam. In late- 
ribus vero ipsius ecclesise dum capellse sibi adhserent prsecla- 
rissimse hinc inde, SanctcB MaricB scilicet Sanctique Johannis 
in lionore, sicut ipsi participes Dominicse passionis sibi in 
lateribus constiterunt hinc inde." 

These four narratives are here translated for the first time. 
In translating Bernard, the text of Mabillon has been com- 
pared with that of Michel. The narrative of Arculf has been 
somewhat abridged, and relieved of some miracles and theo- 
logical observations that are totally without interest. It may 
be right to observe, also, that in the original manuscript this 
narrative is accompanied with plans of churches, copies of 
which are given in the edition of Mabillon, and in the editions 
of Bede's abridgement. 

The translation of the Saga of Sigurd the Crusader, is 
taken, by the obliging permission of Mr. Laing, from his 
recently published '' Hemskringla," or " Chronicle of the 
Kings of Norway." 

A number of editions, and several translations, of the 
travels of Benjamin of Tudela, have appeared, but the only 
strictly correct one is that published by Mr. A. Asher, Berlin, 
1840. The translation published in the present volume is 
a mere revision of the English version by Mr. Asher, altered 
a little in the language, to make it more suitable for the popu- 
lar English reader. My notes are chiefly abridged from the 
valuable volume of notes published by Mr. Asher in 184. 


The only edition of the English text of the book of Sir 
John Maundeville which correctly represents an original 
manuscript, is that published from the Cottonian Library in 
1725, of which a reprint appeared in 1839, with an intro- 
duction, and some additional notes by Mr. Halliwell. The 
language of this edition has been modernized for the present 
volume. The travels of Bertrandon de la Brocquiere are 
preserved in a manuscript preserved in the Royal Library 
in Paris, from which they were published, with some abridg- 
ment and in modernized French, in the fifth volume of the 
Memoires of the Institute of France, by Legrand d'Aussy. 
They were thence translated into English by Mr. Johns, and 
printed at his private press at Hafod, in 1807. This trans- 
lation, which has become a rare book, has been here slightly 
revised, and a few illustrative notes have been added. Maun- 
droll's journey is reprinted from the original edition. 

Brom;pton, Aug. 28; 1848. 



Akculf, tlie holy bishop, a native of Gaul, after visiting many 
remote countries, resided nine months at Jerusalem, and made 
daily visits to the surrounding districts. He counted in the 
circuit of the walls of the holy city eighty-four towers and six 
gates, the latter being distributed in the following order : — 
the gate of David on the west of Mount Sion, the gate of the 
valley of the Fuller, St. Stephen's gate, Benjamin's gate, the 
little gate leading by a flight of steps to the valley of Jeho- 
shaphat, and the gate called Tecuitis ; of which, the three 
most frequented are, one to the west, another to the north, 
and a third to the east. That part of the wall which, with its 
towers, extends from the gate of David over the northern brow 
of Mount Sion, which overlooks the city from the south, to 
the precipitous brow of the same mountain which looks to the 
east, has no gates. 

The city itself begins from the northern brow of Mount 
Sion, and declines with a gentle slope towards^ the walls on 
the north and east, where it is lower ; so that the rain which 
falls on the city runs in streams through the eastern gates, 
carrying with it all the filth of the streets into the brook 
Cedron, in the valley of Jehoshaphat. On the 15th of Sep- 
tember, annually, an immense multitude of people of different 
nations are used to meet in Jerusalem for the purpose of 
commerce, and the streets are so clogged with the dung of 
camels, horses, mules, and oxen, that they become almost im- 
passable, and the smell would be a nuisance to the whole 
town. But, by a miraculous providence, which exhibits God's 
peculiar attachment to this place, no sooner has the multitude 
left Jerusalem than a heavy fall of rain begins on the night 
following, and ceases only whe^ the city has been perfectly 
■ cleansed. 

On the spot where the Temple once stood, near the eastern 
wall, the Saracens have now erected a square house of prayer, 


52 BISHOP AECULF. [A.D. 700. 

in a rougli manner, by raising beams and planks upon some 
remains of old ruins ; this is their place of worship, and it is 
said that it will hold about three thousand men *. Arculf 
also observed many large and handsome houses of stone in 
all parts of the city, but his attention was more especially 
attracted by the holy places. 

The church of the Holy Sepulchre is very large and round, 
encompassed with three walls, with a broad space between each, 
and containing three altars of wonderful workmanship, in the 
middle wall, at three different points ; on the south, the north, 
and the west. It is supported by twelve stone columns of ex- 
traordinary magnitude; and it has eight doors or entrances 
through the three opposite walls, four fronting the north-east, 
and four to the south-east. In the middle space of the inner 
circle is a round grotto cut in the solid rock, the interior of 
which is large enough to allow nine men to pray, standing, 
and the roof of which is about a foot and a half higher than a 
man of ordinary stature. The entrance is from the east side, 
and the whole of the exterior is covered with choice marble 
to the very top of the roof, which is adorned with gold, and 
supports a large golden cross. Within, on the north side, is 
the tomb of our Lord, hewn out of the same rock, seven feet 
in length, and rising three palms above the floor. These mea- 
surements were taken by Arculf with his own hand. This tomb 
is broad enough to hold one man lying on his back, and has a 
raised division in the stone to separate his legs. The en- 
trance is on the south side, and there are twelve lamps burn- 
ing day and night, according to the number of the twelve 
apostles : four within at the foot, and the other eight above, 
on the right-hand side. Internally, the stone of the rock 
remains in its original state, and still exhibits the marks of 
the workman's tools ; its colour is not uniform, but appears to 
"be a mixture of white and red. The stone that was laid at 
the entrance to the monument is now broken in two ; the 

* Jerusalem was first captured by tlie Saracens, under the khalif Omar, 
in 637, about sixty years before it was visited by Arculf. The patriarch 
Sophronius, when requested by Omar to point out a place for the erection 
of a mosque, is said to have taken him to the ruins on the site of Solo- 
mon's Temple, which had been deserted by the Christians, and where the 
building known as the Mosque of Omar was subsequently built. Until 
Arculf 's time, the Mohammedans appear, however, to have had but a rough 
and temporary erection, unless the worthy bishop's pious zeal would not allow 
him to speak of the mosque otherwise thaii disrespectfully. 


lesser portion standing as a square altar, before the entrance, 
while the greater forms another square altar in the east part 
of the same church, covered with linen cloths. 

To the right of this round church (which is called the Ana- 
stasis, or Kesurrection,) adjoins the square church of the Virgin 
Mary, and to the east of this another large church is built on 
the spot called in Hebrew Golgotha, from the ceiling of 
which hangs a brazen wheel with lamps, beneath which a large 
silver cross is fixed in the very place where stood the wooden 
cross on which the Saviour of the human race suffered. Under 
the place of our Lord's cross, a cave is hewn in the rock, in 
which sacrifice is offered on an altar for the souls of certain 
honoured persons deceased, their bodies remaining meanwhile 
in the way or street between this church and the round 
church. Adjoining the church of Golgotha, to the east, is 
the basilica, or church, erected with so much magnificence by 
the emperor Constantino, and called the Martyrdom, built, 
it is said, in the place where the cross of our Lord with the 
other two crosses were found by divine revelation, tvv^o hun- 
dred and thirty-three years after they had been buried. Be- 
tween these two last-mentioned churches, is the place where 
Abraham raised the altar for the sacrifice of his son Isaac, 
where there is now a small wooden table, on which the alms 
for the poor are offered. Between the Anastasis, or round 
church, and the basihca of Constantino, a certain open space 
extends to the church of Golgotha, in which are lamps burning 
day and night. In the same space between the Martyrdom 
and the Golgotha, is a seat, in which is tlie cup of our 
Lord, concealed in a little shrine, which Arculf touched 
and kissed through a hole in the covering. It is made 
of silver, of the capacity of about a French quart, and has 
two handles, one on each side. In it also is the sponge 
which was held up to our Lord's mouth. The soldier's lance, 
with which he pierced our Lord's side, which has been broken 
into two pieces, is also kept in the portico of the Martyrdom, 
inserted in a wooden cross. Arculf saw some other relics, 
and he observed a lofty column in the holy places to the 
north, in the middle of the city, which, at mid-day at the 
summer solstice, casts no shadow, which shows that this is the 
centre of the earth*. 

* It was a very old article of popular belief, founded on a literal interpret- 
ation of the words of Ps. Ixxiv. 12, that Jerusalem was the centre, or, as it 

B 2 

4 BISHOP ARCULF. [A.D. 700. 

Arculf next visited the liolj places in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of Jerusalem. In the valley of Jehoshaphat he saw 
the round church of St. Mary, divided into two stories by slabs 
of stone ; in the upper part are four altars ; on the eastern side 
below there is another, and to the right of it an empty tomb 
of stone, in which the Virgin Maiy is said to have been buried ; 
but who moved her body, or when this took place, no one can 
say. On entering this chamber, you see on the right-hand side 
a stone inserted in the wall, on which Christ knelt when he 
prayed on the night in which he was betrayed; and the 
marks of his knees are still seen in the stone, as if it had 
been as soft as wax. In the same valley, not far from die 
church of St. Mary, is shown the tower of Jehoshaphat, in 
wdiich his tomb is seen; adjoining to which little tower, on 
the right, is a separate chamber cut out of the rock of Mount 
Olivet, containing two hollow sepulchres, one, that of the aged 
Simeon the Just, who held the child Jesus in the temple, and 
prophesied of him; the other of Joseph, the husband of Mary. 
On the side of Mount Olivet there is a cave, not far from the 
church of St. Mary, on an eminence looking towards the 
valley of Jehoshaphat, in which are two very deep pits. One 
of these extends under the mountain to a vast depth ; the other 
is sunk straight down from the pavement of the cavern, and is 
said to be of great extent. These pits are always closed above. 
In this cavern are four stone tables ; one, near the entrance, is 
that of our Lord Jesus, whose seat is attached to it, and who, 
doubtless, rested himself here while his twelve apostles sat at 
the other tables. There is a wooden door to the cave, which 
was often visited by Arculf ^^. 

After passing through the gate of David, which is adjacent 
to Mount Sion, we come to a stone bridge, raised on arches, 
and pointing straight across the valley to the south ; half-way 
along which, a little to the west of it, is the spot where Judas 
Iscariot hanged himself ; and there is still shown a large fig- 
tree, from the top of which he is said to have suspended 
himself, according to the words of the poet Juvencus, — 
" Informem rapuit ficus de vertice mortem." 

was often expressed, the navel, of the world ; and it is so exhibited in nearly 
all the medieval maps. 

* Dr. Clarke is the only modern traveller who has given any notice of 
these subterranean chambers or pits, which he supposes to haye been ancient 
places of idolatrous worship. 


On Mount Sion, Arculf saw a square cliurcli, which in- 
cluded the site of our Lord's Supper, the place where the 
Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles, the marble column 
to which our Lord was bound when he was scourged, and the 
spot where the Virgin Mary died. Here also is shown the 
site of the martyrdom of St. Stephen. He saw on the south 
of Mount Sion a small field (Aceldama) covered with a heap 
of stones, where the bodies of many pilgrims are carefully 
buried, while others are left to rot on the surface. 

The ground to the north of Jerusalem, as far as the city of 
Samuel, which is called Ramatha, is at intervals rough and 
stony. There are open valleys, covered with thorns, extending 
all the way to the region of Tamnitis ; but, on the other side, 
from iElia (Jerusalem) and Mount Sion to Csesarea of Palestine, 
though some narrow and craggy places are found, yet the 
principal part of the way is a level plain interspersed with 
olive-yards. Arculf states that few trees are found on Mount 
Olivet, except vines and olive trees, but wheat and barley 
flourish exceedingly; the nature of the soil, which is not 
adapted to trees, is favourable to grass and flowers. The 
height of this hill appears to be equal to that of Mount Sion, 
although it is much more extensive in length and breadth : 
the two mountains are separated by the valley of Jehoshaphat. 
On the highest point of Mount Olivet, where our Lord as- 
cended into heaven, is a large round church, having around it 
three vaulted porticoes. The inner apartment is not vaulted 
and covered, because of the passage of our L5rd's body ; but 
it has an altar on the east side, covered with a narrow roof. 
On the ground, in the midst of it, are to be seen the last prints 
in the dust of our Lord's feet, and the roof appears open 
above, where he ascended; and although the earth is daily 
carried away by believers, yet still it remains as before, and 
retains the same impression of the feet. Near this is a brazen 
wheel, as high as a man's neck, having an entrance towards 
the west, with a great lamp hanging above it on a pulley, and 
burning night and day. In the western part of the same 
church are eight windows ; and eight lamps, hanging by cords 
opposite them, cast their light through the glass as far as 
Jerusalem ; which light, Arculf said, strikes the hearts of the 
beholders with a mixture of joy and divine fear. Every year, on 
the day of the Ascension, when mass is ended, a strong blast 
of wind comes down, and casts to the R'round all who are in 

6 BISHOP ARCULF. [A.D. 700. 

the churcli. All that night, lanterns are kept burning there, 
so that the mountain appears not only lighted up, but actually 
on fire, and all that side of the city is illuminated by it. 

Arculf visited at Bethany a field in the middle of a large 
grove of olives, where there is a great monastery, and a church 
built over the cave where our Lord raised Lazarus from the 
dead. There is also a much frequented church to the north 
of Bethany, on that part of Mount Olivet where our Lord is 
said to have preached to his disciples. 

From Jerusalem Arculf went to Bethlehem, which is situ- 
ated on a narrow ridge, surrounded on all sides by valleys. The 
ridge is about a mile long, from west to east ; and a low wall, 
without towers, surrounds the brow of the hill, and overlooks 
the valley. The houses of the inhabitants are scattered 
here and there over the space within the wall. At the ex- 
treme eastern angle there is a sort of natural half cave, the 
outer part of which is said to have been the place of our 
Lord s birth ; the inside is called our Lord's Manger. The 
w^hole of this cave is covered within with precious marble. 
Over the place where more especially our Lord is said to have 
been born, stands the great church of St. Mary. Near the 
wall is a hollow stone, which received back from the wall the 
water in which our Lord's body was washed, and has ever 
since been full of the purest water, without any diminution. 
If by any accident or service it has been emptied, it quickly 
becomes as full as before. In the valley to the north of 
Bethlehem, Arculf saw the tomb of David, in the middle of a 
church, covered with a low pyramidal stone, unadorned, with 
a lamp placed above it. In another church, on the slope of 
the hill to the south, is the tomb of St. Jerome, equally with- 
out ornament. About a mile to the east of Bethlehem, by 
the tower of Ader, that is, of the Flock, is a church contain- 
ing monuments of the three Shepherds, to w4iom, on this 
spot, the angel announced the birth of our Lord. 

There is a highway, according to Arculf, leading southward 
from Jerusalem to Hebron, to the east of which Bethlehem 
is situated, six miles from Jerusalem. At the extremity of 
this road, on the west side, is the tomb of Rachel, rudely 
built of stones, wdthout any ornament, presenting externally 
the form of a pyramid. Her name, placed there by her hus- 
band Jacob, is still shown upon it. 

Hebron, which is also called Mamre, has no walls, and ex- 


hibits only the ruins of tlie ancient city ; but there are some 
ill-built villages and hamlets scattered over the plain, and in- 
habited by a multitude of people. To the east is a double 
cave, looking towards Mamre, where are the tombs of the 
four patriarchs, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and Adam the first 
man. Contrary to the usual custom, they are placed with the 
feet to the south, and the heads to the north ; and they are 
inclosed by a square low wall. Each of the tombs is covered 
wdth a single stone, worked somewhat in form of a church, and 
of a light colour for those of the three patriarchs, which are 
together. The tomb of Adam, which is of meaner workman- 
ship, lies not far from them, at the furthest extremity to the 
north. Arculf also saw poorer and smaller monuments of 
the three women, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, who were here 
buried in the earth. The hill of Mamre is a mile to the 
south-west of these monuments, and is covered with grass and 
flowers, with a flat plain at the summit ; on the north side of 
which is a church, in which is still seen, rooted in the ground, 
the stump of the oak of Mamre, called also the oak of Abra- 
ham, because under it he received the angels, St. Jerome 
says that this oak had stood there from the beginning of the 
world. Passing from Hebron towards the north, a hill of no 
great size is seen to the left, covered with fir-trees, about 
three miles from Hebron. Fir-w^ood, for fuel, is carried 
hence to Jerusalem on camels, for, as Arculf observed, car- 
riages or waggons are very seldom met with throughout the 
whole of Judsea. 

In another excursion, Arculf proceeded to Jericho, where, 
although the city had been three times built, and as many 
times utterly destroyed, yet the walls of the house of Rahab 
still stand, although without a roof. The whole site of the 
city is covered with corn-fields and vineyards, without any 
habitations. Between it and the Jordan are large groves of 
palm trees, interspersed with open spaces, in v/hich are 
almost innumerable houses, inhabited by a diminutive sort of 
men of the race of Canaan. A large church stands on the 
site of Galgalis, where the children of Israel first encamped 
after passing the Jordan It is five miles from Jericho. 
Within the church are the twelve stones which Joshua ordered 
to be taken out of the Jordan ; six on the south side of the 
church floor, and six on the north. They are so heavy, that 
two strong men, at the present day, could hardly lift one of 

8 BISHOP ARCULF. [a.D. 700. 

tliem ; one has been accidentally broken in two, but the pieces 
have been reunited by means of iron. 

A wooden cross stands in the Jordan, on the spot where 
our Lord was baptized, the depth of which, when the water 
is highest, reaches to the neck of a tall man, and, when 
lowest, to the breast. The river is here about as broad 
as a man can throw a stone with a sling. A stone bridge, 
raised on arches, reaches from the bank of the river to the 
cross, where people bathe. Arculf swam backwards and for- 
wards in the Avater. A little church stands at the brink of 
the water, on the spot where our Lord is said to have laid his 
clothes when he entered the river. On the higher ground is 
a large monastery of monks, and a church dedicated to St. 
John. Arculf found the waters of the Jordan of a yellowish 
milky colour, and observed that they preserved this colour to 
a considerable distance, after they flowed into the Dead Sea, 
where he also witnessed the way in which salt was obtained 
from the waters of the latter. 

In another excursion, Arculf visited the spot at the foot of 
Mount Libanus where the Jordan has its rise from two foun- 
tains, which are named Jor and Dan, the v/aters of which uniting, 
take the name of Jordan ; and he went round the greater part 
of the Sea of Galilee, called also the Lake of Gennesareth, and 
the Sea of Tiberias, which is surrounded by thick woods, and 
is a hundred and forty stadia in length. The waters are 
sweet, and fit to drink ; for it receives no mud, or other coarse 
substance, from any marshy pools, but is surrounded on all 
sides by a sandy shore. Arculf also travelled over the coun- 
try of Samaria, and visited the town called in Hebrew^ 
Sichem, but by the Greeks and Latins Sicima, and now more 
usually Sichar. Here, without the walls, he saw a cruciform 
cliurch, in the centre of which is the well of Jacob, where our 
Saviour met the Samaritan woman. Arculf, who drank of 
the water, estimated its depth at forty cubits. He also saw 
in the wilderness a clear fountain, protected with a covering 
vi masonr}', at which it is reported John the Baptist used to 
drink. He likewise saw a very small species of locust, the 
bodies of which are slender and short, about the size of a 
finger; and, because the^^ make short leaps like frogs, they are 
easily caught among the grass. When boiled in oil, they form 
a poor sort of food. In the same desert he saw trees with 
broad round leaves of a milky colour, with the savour of honey. 


which are naturally fragile, and, after being bruised with the 
hand, are eaten ; and this is the wild honey found in the 
woods. He further saw, on this side of the Sea of Galilee, 
to the north of the city of Tiberias, the place where our Lord 
blessed the loaves and fishes, a grassy and level plain, which 
has never been ploughed since that event, and shows no 
traces of buildings, except a few columns round the fountain 
where, as they say, those persons drank after they had eaten 
their fill. 

Those who wish to go from Jerusalem to Capernaum, take 
the direct way by Tiberias, and from thence, along the Sea of 
Gennesareth, to the place where the loaves were blessed, from 
which Capernaum is at no great distance. Arculf saw this 
place from a neighbouring hill, and observed that it has no 
walls, but lies on a narrow piece of ground between the 
mountain and the lake. On the shore, towards the east, it 
extends a long way, having the mountain on the north and 
the water on the south. Arculf remained two days and two 
nights at Nazareth, which is on a hill, and is also without 
w^alls, but it has large houses of stone, and two very large 
churches. One of these is raised upon mounds and arches 
connecting them, and under it, between the mounds, is a clear 
fountain, from which all the citizens draw water in vessels, 
which they raise up into the church by means of pulleys. On 
this site stood formerly the house in which our Lord was 
nursed when an infant. The other church was built on the 
site of the house in which the archangel Gabrjiel came to the 
blessed Mary. 

Mount Tabor, in Galilee, is three miles from the Lake of 
Gennesareth, of a remarkably round shape, and covered in 
an extraordinary manner with grass and flowers. At the top 
is a pleasant and extensive meadow, surrounded by a thick 
wood, and in the middle of the meadow a great monastery, 
with numerous cells of monks. The meadow is about twenty- 
four stadia in breadth, and the height of the mountain about 
thirty stadia. There are also three handsome churches on 
the top, according to the number of tabernacles described by 
Peter ''f. The monastery and churches are inclosed by a stone 

From Mount Tabor, Arculf went to the royal city of 

* Matth. xvii. 4. 

10 BISHOP ARCULF. [a.D. 700. 

Damascus, eight days' journey, and remained there some 
days. It js situated in a plain, surrounded by a broad and 
ample circuit of walls, with numerous towers, and is inter- 
sected by four great rivers. On all sides beyond the walls 
are numerous groves of olives. The king of the Saracens 
has obtained possession of this city, and reigns in it^. It 
contains a large church of St. John the Baptist, frequented 
by the Christians. The unbelieving Saracens have built 
themselves a large mosque here. From hence Arculf re- 
paired to Tyre, and thence (as it appears) he returned to Je- 
rusalem. He went subsequently from Jerusalem to Joppa, 
and thence sailed, in forty days, to Alexandria in Egypt, a city 
famous throughout the whole world. It extends to a great 
length from east to west, so that Arculf, who began to enter the 
city at nine o'clock in the morning {liora tertia), in the month 
of October, and proceeding through the whole length of the 
city, hardly reached the other side before darkf. On the 
south it is bounded by the mouths of the Nile, and on the 
north by the Lake Mareotis. Its port is difficult of access, 
and bears some resemblance to the human body ; for in its 
head it is sufficiently ample, but at its entrance it is very nar- 
row, where it admits the tide of the sea, together with such 
ships as run into the port to take shelter and 'refit. But 
when you have passed the narrow neck and mouth of the har- 
bour, the sea, like the human body, stretches out far and 
wide. On the right hand side is a small port, in which is 
the Pharos, a large tower, which is every night lighted up 
with torches, lest mariners might mistake their way in the 
dark, and be dashed against the rocks in their attempt to 
find the entrance, particularly as this is much impeded and 
disturbed by the waves dashing to and fro. The port, how- 
ever, is always calm, and in magnitude about thirty stadia. 
The precautions alluded to are necessary for a port which is, in 
a manner, the emporium of the whole world ; for innumerable 
people from all parts go there for commerce, and the sur 

* Damascus was taken by the Arabs in 634. By the capitulation, the 
Christians were to have seven churches ; but one of the Arabian leaders 
having broken into the city before the capitulation v/as completed, it was 
only very partially observed. 

f Alexandria fell into the power of the Arabs in 640. The account given 
of the city by Arculf would lead us to believe that its prosperity and im- 
portance were not so suddenly reduced by that event as is generally believed. 


rounding region is extremely fruitful. Altliougli the country- 
is destitute of rain, the Nile serves both as a cultivator of the 
land, and as the means of transferring its products from one 
place to another. Here you see people sowing, there navi- 
gating, which are their chief occupations. The Nile is navi- 
gable to the place they call the town of Elephants ^ ; beyond 
that the cataracts hinder a ship from proceeding, not from 
want of water, but because all the waters of the river run in 
a sort of wild ruin down a steep descent. Towards Egypt, 
as we enter the city, there is a large church on the right, in 
which St. Mark the Evangelist is interred. The body is 
buried in the eastern part of the church, before the altar, 
with a monument of squared marble over it. Along the Nile, 
the Egyptians are in the habit of constructing numerous em- 
bankments, to prevent the irruption of the water, which, if 
these mounds were broken down by the neglect of their keepers, 
would rather inundate and destroy than irrigate the lands be- 
low. The Egyptians who inhabit the plains, as Arculf, who 
frequently passed backward and forward along the Nile, ob- 
served, make their houses over canals by laying planks across. 
Arculf relates further, that the river Nile is haunted by cro- 
codiles, aquatic beasts, not so large as they are ravenous, and 
so strong, that if one of them see by chance a horse or an 
ass, or even an ox, feeding near the bank of the river, he 
suddenly rushes out to attack it, and seizing |t perhaps by 
the foot, drags it under the water, and devours the whole. 

On his return from Alexandria, Arculf went to Constan- 
tinople, which is bounded on all sides, except the north, by 
the sea. The circuit of the walls, which are angular, accord- 
ing to the line of the sea, is about twelve miles. Constan- 
tino was at first disposed to build it in Cilicia, near the sea 
w^hich separates Europe and Asia ; but on a certain night all 
the iron tools were carried away, and when men were sent 
to seek them, they were found on the European side ; for 
there it was God's will that the city should be built. In this 

* Urhs Elephantorum. The town of Elephantina, famous for its interesting 
monuments, situate on the Nile, just below the cataracts. It is to be pre- 
sumed that Arculf had visited this place; and perhaps he had here seen 
the crocodiles subsequently described, as those animals are said not to be 
found in Lower Egypt. It must, however, be observed, that St. Antoninus, 
who visited Egypt in the seventh century, appears to have seen crocodiles in 
Lower Egypt. See his Life, in the Act. Sanct. of the Bollandists. 

12 BISHOP ARCULF. [A.D. 700. 

city is a cliurch of -^vonderful workmanship, called tlie Church 
of St. Sophia, built circular from its foundation, domed in, 
and surrounded by three walls. It is supported to a great 
height on columns and arches, and has, in its inmost part, on 
the north side, a laroje and beautiful closet, wherein is a 
w^ooden chest with a wooden lid, containing three pieces of 
our Lord's cross -''' ; that is to say, the long timber cut in two, 
and the transverse part of the same holy cross. These pieces 
are exhibited for the adoration of the people three times only 
in the year ; namely, on the day of our Lord's Supper, the 
day of the Preparation, and on Holy Saturday. On the 
first of these, the chest, which is two cubits long and one 
broad, is set out on a golden altar, with the holy cross ex- 
posed to view : the Emperor first approaches, and, after him, 
all the different ranks of laymen in order kiss and worship 
it ; on the following day, the Empress and all the married 
women and virgins do the same ; on the third day, the 
bishops and different orders of the clergy observe the same 
ceremonies ; and then the chest is shut, and carried back to 
the closet before mentioned. 

Arculf saw other sacred relics in Constantinople, and then 
sailed for his own country. About twelve miles from Sicily 
he saw the isle of Vulcano, whence constantly issued smoke 
by day and fire by night, with a noise like thunder, but with 
more intensity on Fridays and Saturdays. The noise is heard 
in Sicily, where Arculf made a short stay ; and afterwards, 
on his way home, he was carried by contrary winds to the 
shores of Britain, and at length came to me, Adamnan, 
who by diligent inquiry obtained from him the above parti- 
culars, which I have carefully committed to writing. 

* The subsequent history of the supposed real cross, or rather the supposed 
fragments of it^ which were scattered as relics over Christian Europe, would 
fill a volume. It was pretended that it was brought to France by Charle- 

A.D. 721—727. 


After the cerenionies of Easter were ended, the active cham- 
pion (of Christ) prepared for his voyage with his two companions, 
and left Rome. They first went eastward to the town of Date- 
rina^S where they remained two days ; and thence to Cajeta, on 
the coast, wdiere they went on hoard a ship and sailed over to 
Nebulef. They here left the ship, and remained a fortnight. 
These are cities belonging to the Romans ; they are in the 
territory of Beneventum, hut subject to Rome. There, after 
waiting anxiously, in constant prayer that their desires might 
be agreeable to heaven, they found a ship bound for Egypt, in 
which they took their passage, and sailed to the land of Cala- 
bria, to the town which is called Rhegia]:, and there remained 
two days ; and then proceeded to the island of Sicily, in which 
is the town of Catania, where the body of St. Agatha, the 
virgin, reposes. And there is Mount Etna; in case of an 
eruption of wdiich, the inhabitants of Catania take the veil of 
St. Agatha, and hold it up towards the fire, w^hich immedi- 
ately ceases. They made a stay of three wrecks at this place, 
and then sailed to the isle of Samos, and thence to the town 
of Ephesus, in Asia, which is one mile from the sea. They 
walked thence to the place v/here the seven sleepers repose ; 
and onward thence to John the Evangelist, m a beautiful 
locality by Ephesus. They next walked two miles along the • 
sea-side to a large village which is called Figila§, Avhere 
they remained one day, and, having begged bread, they went 
to a fountain in the middle of the town, and, sitting on the 
edge, they dipped their bread in the water, and so made their 
meal. They next walked along the sea-shore to the town of 

* Probably Terracina. 

f Probably this is a corruption of Neapolis, or I^aples. 

J Now Reggio. 

§ This evidently corresponds to the liuyiXee, (or Pj^gela) of Strabo, which 
he calls ^aX/;^vi«jy, a little town. Stephanas and Pomponius Mela also write 
Pygela, but Pliny has it Phygala. The site is now, according to Hamilton, 
(Trav. vol. ii. p. 22,) covered with fragments of Ptoman tiles and pottery ; 
and near the road is the foundation of a large marble building, apparently a 

14 WILLIBALD. [A.D. 722. 

Strobole '^, seated on a lofty hill, and thence to the place 
called Patera, where they remained till the rigour of winter 
was past. 

After this, going on ship-hoard, they came to the town 
which is called Melitena f, which had been nearly destroyed by 
an inundation ; and two hermits lived there on a rock, secured 
by walls, so that the water could not reach them. And there 
they suffered much from hunger, from which they were only 
relieved by God's providential mercy J. They sailed thence to 
the isle of Cyprus, which is between the Greeks and the 
Saracens, to the town of Papho, where they passed the first 
week in the year. And thence they went to the town of Con- 
stantia, where St. Epiphanius reposes, and there they remained 
till after the Nativity of St. John the Baptist §. They then 
put to sea again and came into the region of the Saracens to 
the town of Tharratas|l, by the sea; and thence they walked a 
distance of nine to twelve miles to a castle called Archse If, where 
there was a Greek bishop ; and there they had divine service 
according to the Greek custom. Thence they walked twelve 
miles to the town which is called Emessa, where there is a large 
church built by St. Helena, in honour of John the Baptist, 
whose head was long preserved there. This is in Syria. 

Willibald s party had now increased to eight in number, 
and they became an object of suspicion to the Saracens, who, 
seeing that they were strangers, seized them and threw them 

* Mr. Ainsworth, witli wliom I have consulted on this name, observes, 
" I can only suppose that we must read Trogilium for Strobolem, or that the 
latter was the native corruption of Trogilium, the name, according to Ptolemy, 
of the promontory which lies between Ephesus and the Meander, and which 
is opposite the island of Samos." In the Acts of the Apostles, xx. 15, it is 
written, " And we sailed thence, (Mitylena,) and came the next day over 
against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at 
Trogyllium ; and the next day we came to Miletus." 

+ ^. e. Miletus. 

:|: The passage in the original is rather obscure. The later anonymous life 
of St. Willibald says that they came to the mount of the Galani, which 
having been ravaged by war, they were distressed for want of provisions. 
*' Navim demum ingressi, ad montem Galanorum transfretarunt ; quo bellorum 
tempestate tunc tempoiis depilato ssevam passi sunt inediam." 

§ June 24, 722. 

II Tortosa, now called Tartus. 

% The Area of Ptolemy, placed in the Antonine Itinerary, 18 M.P. from 
Tripolis, and 32 M.P. from Antaradon. Josephus (De Bel. Jud,, lib. vii. c, 13) 
says the Grentiles called this Phoenician town Arcsea or Arcena. It is now 
called Tele Arka. 


into prison, because they knew not of what country they were, 
and supposed them to be spies. They carried them as prisoners 
before a certain rich old man, that he might examine them ; 
and he inquired whence they came and the object of their 
mission; whereupon they related to him the true cause of 
their journey. The old man replied, " I have often seen 
men of the parts of the earth wiience these come, travelling 
hither; they seek no harm, but desire to fulfil their law." 
And upon that they went to the palace, to obtain leave to pro- 
ceed to Jerusalem. 

While they w-ere in prison it happened, by a manifest in- 
tervention of Divine Providence, that a merchant residing 
there was desirous, as an act of charity, and for the salvation 
of his soul, to purchase their deliverance, that they might 
pursue their way, but he was not allowed to carry his gene- 
rous design into effect ; nevertheless he sent them daily their 
meals, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays sent his son to 
them in prison, who took them out to the bath, and brought 
them back again. And on Sunday he took them to church 
through the market, that they might see the shops, and what- 
ever they seemed to take a liking to he afterwards bought for 
them at his own expense. The townsmen used then to 
come there to look at them, because they were young and 
handsome, and clad in good garments. 

Then, while they were still remaining in prison, a man, 
who w^as a native of Spain, came and spoke with them, and 
inquired earnestly who they were and from whence they came, 
and they told him the object of their pilgrimage. This 
Spaniani had a brother in the king's palace, who was chamber- 
lain to the king of the Saracens ; and when the governor who 
had thrown them into prison came to the palace, the captain 
in whose ship they had sailed from Cyprus, and the Spaniard 
who had spoken to them in prison, w^ent together before the 
Idng of the Saracens, whose title is Emir-al-Mumenin -:% and, 
when their cause came on, the Spaniard spoke to his brother^ 
and begged him to intercede with the king for them. After 
this, when all three came before the king, and told him the 

* i. e. Emir, or commander of the faithful. Willibald, not understanding 
the language, translated the title of the khalif into the name of a king, whom 
the biographer calls Mirmumni. In a similar manner the old Spanish and 
English historians frequently turned the same title into the name Miramomelin» 
Ihe khalif here alluded to was Yezid II. 

16 WILLIBALD. [a.D. 7^*2. 

case, he asked whence the prisoners came. And they said, 
'* These men come from the west country, where the sun sets ; 
and we know of no land beyond them, but water only." 
And the king replied, "Why ought we to punish them? 
they have not sinned against us : — give them leave, and let 
them go." And even the fine of four deniers, which the 
other prisoners had to pay, was remitted to them. The 
Cyprians were then situated between the Greeks and the 
Saracens, and were not in arms : for there was great peace 
and friendship between the Greeks and Saracens. It was a 
great and extensive region, and had twelve bishops. 

As soon as they had obtained leave, the travellers went 
direct to Damascus, a distance of a hundred miles. St. Ana- 
nias reposes there, and it is in the land of Syria. They re- 
mained there one week. And at two miles from the city was 
a church, on the spot where St. Paul was first converted, and 
the Lord said to him, ** Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?" 
&c. And after praying there, they went into Galilee, to the 
place where Gabriel first came to St. Mary, and said, *' Hail, 
full of grace, ' &c. A church now stands there, and the 
village which contains the church is Nazareth. The Chris- 
'cians repeatedly bought that church of the pagans, when 
the latter were about to destroy it. And having there recom- 
mended themselves to the Lord, they proceeded to the town 
of Cana, where our Lord . turned water into wine. A large 
church stands there, and near the altar is still preserved one 
of tlie six vessels which our Lord commanded to fill with water 
to be turned into wine ; and the travellers drunk wine out of 
it. They remained there one day, and then continued their 
journey to Mount Tabor, the scene of our Lord's tranfigura- 
tion, where there is now a monastery and a church conse- 
crated to our Lord, and Moses, and Elijah. And those who 
dwell there call it Hagemon (the Holy Mount). After pray- 
ing there, they proceeded to the town of Tiberias, which 
stands on the shore of the sea on which our Lord walked with 
dry feet, and on which Peter tried to walk but sank. Here 
are many churches, and a synagogue of the Jews. They re- 
mained there some days, and observed where the Jordan 
passes through the midst of the sea. And thence they went 
round the sea, and by the village of Magdalum to the village 
of Capernaum, where our Lord raised the prince s daughter. 
Here was a house and a great wall, which the people of the 


place told tliem was the residence of Zebedaeus with his sons 
John and James. And thence they w^nt to Bethsaida, the re- 
sidence of Peter and Andrew, where there is now a church on 
the site of their house. They remained there that night, and 
next morning went to Chorazin, where our Lord healed the 
demoniacs, and sent the devil into a herd of swine. Here 
was a church of the Christians. 

Having performed their devotions there, they went to the 
place where the two fountains, Jor and Dan, issue from the 
earth, and flowing down from the mountain are collected 
into one, and form the Jordan. And there they passed the 
night between the two fountains, and the shepherds gave 
them sour ewes' milk to drink. The sheep are of an extra- 
ordinary kind, with a long back, short legs, large upright 
horns, and all of one colour. There are deep marshes in the 
neighbourhood, and when the heat of the sun, in summer, is 
oppressive, the sheep go to the marsh, and immerse them- 
selves in the water all but the head. Thence they proceeded to 
Casarea, where there was a church and a multitude of Christ- 
ians. They next went to the monastery of St. John the Bap- 
tist ^, where there were about twenty monks, and remained 
one night there, and next day went the distance of a mile to the 
spot in the river Jordan where our Lord was baptized. Here 
is now a church raised upon stone columns, and under the 
church it is now dry land where our Lord was baptized. They 
still continue to baptize in this place ; and a wooden cross stands 
in the middle of the river, where there is small d'epth of water, 
and a rope is extended to it over the Jordan. At the feast 
of the Epiphany, the infirm and sick come thither, and, hold- 
ing by the rope, dip in the water. And women who are 
barren come thither also, and thus obtain God's grace. Willi- 
bald here bathed in the Jordan, and they remained at this 
place one day. 

Thence they went to Gal gala, a journey of five miles, where 
is a moderate-sized wooden church, in which are the twelve 
stones which the children of Israel carried out of the Jordan 
to Galgala, and placed there as a memorial of their pas- 
sage. Here also they performed their devotions, and then 
proceeded to Jericho, above seven miles from the Jordan, and 
saw there the fountain which was blessed by the prophet 

* In the desert of Quarantania, 

18 WILLIBALD. [A.D. 722, 

Elisha, and hence to the monastery of St. Eustochium, which 
stands in the middle of the plain between Jericho and Jerii'^ 

On their arrival at Jerusalem, they first visited the spot 
where the holy cross was found, where there is now a church 
which is called the Place of Calvary, and which was formerly 
outside of Jerusalem; hut when St. Helena found the cross, the 
place was taken into the circuit of the city. Three wooden 
crosses stand in this place, on the outside of the wall of the 
church, in memory of our Lord's cross and of those of the 
other persons crucified at the same time. They are without 
the church, but under a roof. And near at hand is the garden 
in which was the sepulchre of our Saviour, which was cut in 
the rock. That rock is now above ground, square at the 
bottom, but tapering above, vdth a cross on the summit. And 
over it there is now built a wonderful edifice. And on the 
east side of the rock of the sepulchre there is a door, by which 
men enter the sepulchre to pray. And there is a bed \\ithin, 
on which our Lord's body lay ; and on the bed stand fifteen 
golden cups with oil burning day and night. The bed on 
which our Lord's body rested stands within the rock of the 
sepulchre on the north side, to the right of a man entering 
the sepulchre to pray. And before the door of the sepulchre 
lies a great square stone, in the likeness of the former 
stone which the angel rolled from the mouth of the monu- 
ment. Our bishop arrived here on the feast of St. Martin -i^, 
and was suddenly seized with sickness, and lay sick until the 
week before the Nativity of our Lord. And then, being a 
little recovered, he rose and went to the church called St. Sion, 
which is in the middle of Jerusalem, and, after performing his 
devotions, he went to the porch of Solomon, where is the pool 
where the infirm wait for the motion of the water, when the 
angel comes to move it ; and then he who first enters it is 
healed. Here our Lord said to the paralytic, " Else, take up 
thy bed, and walk!"f St. Mary expired in the middle of 
Jerusalem, in the place called St. Sion; and as the twelve 
apostles were carrying her body, the angels came and took 
her from their hands and carried her to paradise. 

Bishop Willibald next descended to the valley of Jehoshaphat, 
which is close to the city of Jerusalem, on the east side. And 

* Not. 11, 722. f John, v. 8. 


in that valley is the cliurcli of St. Maiy, wliich contains her 
sepulchre, not because her body rests there, but in memory 
of it. And having prayed there, he ascended Mount Olivet, 
which is on the east side of the valley, and where there is now 
a church, where our Lord prayed before his passion, and said 
to his disciples, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into 
temptation. "^^J' And thence he came to the church on the 
mountain itself, where our Lord ascended to heaven. In the 
middle of the church is a square receptacle, beautifully sculp- 
tured in brass, on the spot of the Ascension, and there is on 
it a small lamp in a glass case, closed on every side, that the 
lamp may burn always, in rain or in fair weather, for the 
church is open above, without a roof ; and two columns stand, 
within the church, against the north wall and the south wall, 
in memory of the two men who said, *' Men of Galilee, why 
stand ye gazing up into heaven ?"f And the man who can 
creep between the wall and the columns will have remission 
of his sins. 

He next came to the place where the angel appeared to the 
shepherds, and thence to Bethlehem, where our Lord was 
born, distant seven miles from Jerusalem. The place where 
Christ was born was once a cave under the earth, but it is 
now a square house cut in the rock, and the earth is dug up 
and thrown from it all round, and a church is now built above 
it, and an altar is placed over the site of the birth. There is 
another smaller altar, in order that when they clesire to cele- 
brate mass in the cave, they may carry in the smaller altar 
for the occasion. This church is a glorious building, in the form 
of a cross. After prayers here, Willibald came to a large to^vn 
called Thecua, where the children were slain by Herod, and 
where there is now a church ; here rests one of the prophets. 
And then he came to the valley of Laura, where there is a 
large monastery; here the abbot resides in the monastery, 
and he is porter of the church, with many other monks who 
belong to the monastery, and have their cells round the valley 
on the slope of the mountain. The mountain is in a circle 
round the valley, in which the monastery is built. Here rests 
St. Saba. He next arrived at the place where Philip bap- 
tized the eunuch, where there is a small church, in an exten- 
sive valley between Bethlehem and Gaza, where the travel- 

* Matth., xxvi. 41. f Acts, i. 11. 

c a 

20 WILLIEALD. [a.D. 724. 

lers prayed, Thence tliey went to St. Matthew, where there 
is great glory on the Sunday. And while our bishop Wilii- 
hald was standmg at mass in this church, he suddenly lost his 
sight, and was blhid for two months. And thence they went 
to St. Zacharias, the prophet, not the father of John, but 
another prophet. They next w^ent to the castle of Aframia, 
where the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, re- 
pose, with their wives, and thence he returned to Jerusalem, 
and there, entering the church where the holy cross of our 
Lord was found, he recovered his sight. 

After remaining some time at Jerusalem, Willibald set out 
on another journey, and came first to St. George, at Diospolis, 
which is ten miles from Jerusalem, and then to a town 
where there is a church of St. Peter the apostle, who here re- 
stored to life the widow named Dorcas. He went thence to 
the coast, far away from Jerusalem, to Tyre and Sidon, which 
stand on the sea-shore six miles from each other ; after which 
he passed over Mount Libanus, to Damascus, and so again to 
Caesarea, and a third time to Jerusalem, where he passed the 
following winter. And then he went to the town of Ptole- 
mais, on the extreme bounds of Syria, and was obliged by 
sickness to remain there all Lent. Plis companions went 
forward to the king of the Saracens, named Emir-al-Mume- 
nin, with the hope of obtaining letters of safe conduct; but 
they could not find the king, because he had fled out of his 
kingdom. Upon this, they ca,me back, and remained together 
at Ptolemais until the week before Easter. 

Then they went again to Emessa, and asked the governor 
there to give them letters, and he gave them a letter for each 
two, because they could not travel in a company, but only two 
and two, on account of the difficulty of obtaining food. And 
then they went to Damascus, and returned a fourth time to 
Jerusalem, where they remained a short period. 

They now left Jerusalem by another route, and came to the 
town of Sebaste, which was formerly called Samaria, and they 
call the castle Sebastia. Here repose St. John the Baptist, 
and the prophets Abdiah and Elisha ; and near the castle is 
the well at which our Lord asked for water of the Samaritan 
woman, and over which well there is now a church. And 
near is the mountain on which the Samaritans worshipped ; 
for the woman said to our Lord, " Our fathers worshipped in 
this mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place 

A.D. 724.] AERIVAL AT TYRE. 21 

v/liere men ouglit to worship."-'^ Here the travellers per- 
formed tiieir devotions, and then they proceeded to a large town 
on the farthest herders of Samaria, where they reposed that 
night. And thence they continued their journey over an ex- 
tensive plain covered with olive trees, and they were accom- 
panied by a black with two camels and a mule, wdio was con- 
ducting a woman through the wood. And on their way they 
w^ere met by a lionf, which threatened them much with fearful 
roaring; but the black encouraged them, and told them to go 
forwards; and when they approached it, the lion, as God 
willed, hurried off in another direction, and they soon heard 
his roaring in the distance. They supposed he came there 
to devour people wdio went into the wood to gather olives. 
At length they arrived at a town called Thalamartha, on the 
sea-coast ; and they proceeded onwards to the head of Mount 
Libanus, where it forms a promontory in the sea, and where 
stands the tower of Libanus. Nobody is allowed to pass this 
place without letters of safe conduct, for there is a guard in 
it ; those who are without such letters, are seized and sent to 
Tyre. That^ mountain is between Tyre and Thalamartha. 
And so the bishop arrived again at Tyre. 

Willibald had formerly, when at Jerusalem, bought balsam, 
and filled a gourd with it : and he took a gourd that was 
hollow, and had flax, and filled it with rock oil I ; and poured 
some in the other gourd, and cut the small stalk, so that it 
fitted exactly and closed up the mouth of the gourd. So, when 
they came to Tyre, the citizens stopped them, and examined 
their burthens to see if they had any thing concealed ; for if 
they had found any thing, they would immediately have put 
them to death. But they found nothing but Willibald s 
gourd, which they opened, and, smelling the rock oil in the 
stalk, they did not discover the balsam that was within. So 
they let them go. They remained here many days waiting 
for a ship, and when they had obtained one they w^ere at sea 
all the winter, from the day of St. Andrew the apostle § till 
a week before Easter, wdien they reached Constantinople. 

* John, iv. 20. 

t Lions were ever of very rare occurrence in Syria : perhaps it was some 
other wild animal peculiar to the country that Willibald saw. It may, how- 
ever, be pointed out as a curious illustration of the words of Jeremiah (xlix. 
19, and 1. 44), "He shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan." 

X Petrce oleum. No doubt the writer means naphtha, bitumen, or asphaltum. 

§ Nov. 30, 724. 

S2 WILLIBALD. [a.d. 725-727. 

Here repose in one altar the three samts, Andrew, Timothy, and 
Luke the evangehst; and the sepulchre of John Chrysostom 
is before the altar where the priest stands when he performs 
mass. Willibald remained there two years, and was lodged 
in the church, so that he might behold daily where the saints 
reposed. And then he came to the town of Nice, where the 
emperor Constantino held a synod, at which three hundred 
and eighteen bishops were present. The church here resem- 
bles the church on Mount Olivet, where our Lord ascended 
to heaven, and in it are the pictures of the bishops who were 
at the synod. Willibald went thither from Constantinople, 
that he might see how that church was built, and then re- 
turned to Constantinople. 

At the end of the two years they sailed, in company with 
the envoys of the pope and the emperor, to the isle of Sicily, to 
the town of Syracuse, and thence to Catania, and so to the city 
of Kegia, in Calabria; and thence to the isle of Vulcano, where 
is Theodoric's Hell^. And when they arrived there, they 
went on shore to see what sort of a hell it was ; and Willibald 
especially, who was curious to see the interior, was wishful to 
ascend to the summit of the mountain where the opening was ; 
hut he was unable to accomplish his wish, on account of the cin- 
ders which were thrown up from the gulf, and settled in heaps 
round the brim, as snow settles on the ground when it falls from 
heaven. But though Willibald was defeated in his attempt 
to reach the summit, he had a near view of the column of 
flame and smoke which was projected upwards from the pit 
"Nvith a noise like thunder. And he saw how the pumice-stone, 
"which writers usef, was thrown with the flame from the hell, 
and fell into the sea, and was thence cast on the shore, where 
men gathered it and carried it away. After having witnessed 
this spectacle, they sailed to the church of St. Bartholomew 
the apostle, which stands on the sea-shore, and came to the 
mountains which are called Didymi. Thence they w^ent by 
sea to Naples. 

* Infernus Theodorici. In the legends of t"his age, the craters of vol- 
canoes were believed to be entrances to hell. A hermit, who resided on the 
Isle of Lipari, told a friend of pope Gregory the Great that he had seen the 
soul of the Gothic king, Theodoric, thrown into the crater of the Isle of 
Vulcano (Gregor. Magn. Dialog._, lib. iv. c. 30). Hence the name given to 
it in Willibald's narrative. 

f The medieval scribes made constant use of the pumice-stone, for 
fimoothening their vellum and for making erasures. 

A.D. 86T. 

In the year from tlie incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ 
867, in the name of the Lord wishing to visit the holy places 
at Jerusalem, I, Bernard, having taken for my companions 
two brother monks, one of whom was of the monastery of St. 
Vincent at Beneventum, and named Theudemund, and the 
other a Spaniard, named Stephen, we went to Rome, to Pope 
Nicholas, and obtained the desired licence to go, along with 
his benediction and assistance. 

Thence we went to Mount Gargano, in which is the Church 
of St. Michael, under one stone, covered above with oak trees ; 
which church is said to have been dedicated by the archangel 
himself. Its entrance is from the north, and it is capable of 
containing sixty men. In the interior, on the east side, is 
the image of the angel ; to the south is an altar on which 
sacrifice is offered, and no other gift is placed there. But 
there is suspended before the altar a vessel in which gifts are 
deposited, which also has near it other altars. Benignatus 
is abbot of this place, and presides over a numerous brother- 

Leaving Mount Gargano, we travelled a hundred and fifty 
miles, to a city in the power of the Saracens, named Bari'-^', 
"which was formerly subject to Beneventum. It is seated on 
the sea, and is fortified to the south by two very wide walls ; 
but to the north it stands exposed to the sea. Here we ob- 
tained from the prince of the city, called the sultan, the 
necessary arrangements for our voyage, with two letters of 
safe conduct, describing our persons and the object of our 

^ The Saracens had established themselves at Ban in the early part of the 
century, and it was now the head seat of their power on the coast of Italy. 
Their predatory excursions into the territory of Beneventum caused the 
emperor Louis II. to prepare an expedition against them, and he took Bari 
after a siege of four years, and returned to Beneventum in 871, while his 
troops laid siege to Tarentum, which, however, was not taken from the 
Saracens till a somewhat later period. The Christian captives mentioned by 
Bernard, as carried in such numbers into slavery in Africa and Egypt, had 
been carried oif in the incursions into the territory of Beneventum. To judge 
from the numbers embarked in one ship, they must have been packed up almost 
as close as negroes in a slave-ship. 

24 BERNARD THE WISE. [A.D. 867. 

journey, to the prince of Alexandria, and to the prince of 
Babylonia-!'. These princes are under the jurisdiction of the 
Emir-al-Mumenin, who rules over all the Saracens, and re- 
sides in Bagada andAxinarri, which are beyond Jerusalem. 

From Bari we proceeded to the port of the city of Taren- 
tum, a distance of ninety miles, where we found six ships, 
having on board nine thousand captives of the Christians of 
Beneventum. In the two ships which sailed first, and which 
were bound for Africa, were three thousand captives ; and in 
the two which followed them, and v/hich went to Tunis, there 
were also three thousand. The two others, which likewise 
contained the same number of Christian captives, carried us to 
the port of Alexandria, after a voyage of thirty days. Here 
we were prohibited from landing by the captain of the sailors, 
who had sixty under his command, until we had given six 
aiirei for our leave. Thence we went to the prince of Alex- 
andria, and showed him the letter which the sultan had given 
us, to which, however, he paid no attention, but obliged each 
of us to pay thirteen deniers, and then gave us letters to the 
prince of Babylonia. It is the custom of these people to take 
in weight only what can be weighed ; and six of our sols 
and six deniers make three sols and three deniers of their 

The city of Alexandria is adjacent to the sea. It was 
here that St. Mark, preaching the gospel, bore the episcopal 
dignity ; and outside the eastern gate of the city is the mo- 
nastery of the saint, with the church in which he formerly 
reposed. But the Venetians coming there obtained his body 
by stealth, and carrying it on shipboard, sailed home with it. 
Without the western gate is a monastery called The Forty 
Saints, in which, as well as in the former, there are a num- 
ber of monks. The port is to the north of the city ; on the 
south is the entrance to the Gyon, or Nile, which waters 
Egypt, and, running through the middle of the city, empties 
itself into the sea in the aforesaid port. We entered the 
river, and sailed to the south six days, and came to the city 
of Babylon of Egypt, where once reigned king Pharaoh, 
under w^hom Joseph built the seven granaries still remaining. 

* This is the Egyptian Bahylon, now Fostat, or, as it is often called, Old 
Cairo. Bagdad (Bagada) was, for many ages, the capital of the Saracen 
empire, and residence of the khalifs. It is doubtful what place is meant 
by Axinarri, which, in Mabillon's text, is called Axiam, 


When we went on shore at Babylon, the guards of the city 
carried us before the prince, a Saracen named Adalhacham, 
who inquired of us the object of our journey, and asked us 
from what princes we had letters. Whereupon we showed 
him the letters of the aforesaid sultan, and those of the 
prince of Alexandria ; but they were of no service to us, for 
he sent us to prison, where we remained six days, and then, 
having consulted together, we obtained our liberty by giving 
more money. He then gave us letters, which effectually pro- 
tected us from any further exactions, for he was second in 
command to the Emir-al-Mumenin aforesaid. Nevertheless, 
when we entered the cities mentioned in the following nar- 
rative, we were never allowed to leave them until we had 
received a paper or impression of a seal, for which we had to 
pay one or two deniers. 

There is in this city a patriarch, by name Michael'!^, who by 
the grace of God rules over the bishops, monks, and other 
Christians throughout Egypt. These Ciiristians are tolerated 
by the pagans, on condition of paying for each person an 
annual tribute to the aforesaid prince, and they live in secu- 
rity and freedom. This tribute is three, or two, or one aureus, 
or for a meaner person thirteen deniers. But he who cannot pay 
thirteen deniers, whether he be a native or a stranger, is thrown 
into prison, until God or some good Christian redeem him. 

We now returned by the river Gyon, and came to the city 
of Sitinulh, and thence proceeded to Malla ; and from Malla 
we sailed across to Damietta, which has the sea to the north, 
and on all other sides the river Nile, with the exception of a 
small strip of land. We sailed thence to the city of Tamnis, 
in which the Christians are very pious, and exceedingly hos- 
pitable. This city possesses no land, except where the 
churches stand ; and there is shown the field of Thanis, 
where lie, in the manner of three walls, the bodies of those 
who died in the time of Moses f. From Tamnis we came to 

* This was the patriarch Michael I., who ruled over the Melchite portion 
of the Coptic Christians from 859 to 871. There was at this time a schism 
among the Christians of Egypt. 

f Of the places here visited by Bernard, Sitinulh is perhaps Menuph; Malla 
is Mahalleh ; and Tamnis is Tennis, or Tennesus, the field of Thanis, answering 
to " the field of Zoan," Psal. Ixxviii. 12. Faramea (in the next page), is Farama 
or Pelusium. The caravanserais are perhaps al-hir (the well) and al-hdkara (the 
pulley), both common names given to wells ; but it is uncertain now what were 
tlie particular spots alluded to by Bernard. Alariza would seem to be Al-arish. 

26 BERNAED THE WISE. [A.D. 867. 

the city of Faramea, where is a church of St. Marj, on the 
spot to which, by the admonition of the angel, Joseph fled 
with the child and its mother. In this city there is a multi- 
tude of camels, which are hired from the natives by travellers 
to carry their baggage across the desert, which is a journey 
of six days. At this city the desert begins ; and it may well 
be called a desert, for it bears neither grass nor fruit of any 
kind, with the exception of palm-trees, and it is white, like a 
plain covered with snow. In the middle of the route there 
are two caravanserais, one called Albara, the other Albacara, 
in which the Christians and pagans traffic for the things 
necessary on the journey. But around them the earth is as 
barren as in the rest of the desert. After Albacara the earth 
becomes fruitful, and continues so to the city of Gaza, which 
was the city of Samson, and is very rich in all things. Then 
we came to Alariza, and thence we went to Ramula, near which 
is the monastery of St. George the Martyr, in which he rests. 
From Eamula we hastened to the castle of Emaus ; and thence 
we went to the holy city of Jerusalem, where we were re- 
ceived in the hostel founded there by the glorious emperor 
Charles '<S in which are received all the pilgrims who speak 
the Koman tongue; to which adjoins a church in honour of St. 
Mary, with a most noble library, founded by the same emperor, 
with twelve mansions, fields, vineyards, and a garden in the 
Valley of Jehoshaphat. In front of the hospital is a market, 
for which every one trading there pays yearly to him who 
provides it two aurei. 

Within this city, besides others, there are four principal 
churches, connected with each other by walls ; one to the 
east, which contains the Mount of Calvary, and the place 
in which the cross of our Lord was found, and is called the 
.Basilica of Constantino ; another to the south; a third to the 
west, in the middle of which is the sepulchre of our Lord, 
having nine columns in its circuit, between which are walls 
made of the most excellent stones ; of which nine columns, 

* Charlemagne. We have no other account of Charlemagne's foundations 
at Jerusalem ; but the khalif Haroun-er-Kaschid is said to have shown great 
favour to the Christian pilgrims from respect for the Prankish emperor, 
and even to have sent him the keys of the Holy Sepulchre and of Jerusalem. 
A legend prevalent in the twelfth century made the emperor visit Jerusalem 
in person ; and an Anglo-Norman poem on Charlemagne's pretended voyage 
to the Holy Land, composed in that century, was printed by M. Fr. Michel 
in 1836. 


four are in front of the monument itself; which, Ynth. their 
walls, include the stone placed before the sepulchre, which 
the angel rolled away, and on which he sat after our Lord s 
resurrection. It is not necessary to say more of this sepul- 
chre, since Bede has given a full description of it in his 
history-!^. I must not, however, omit to state, that on Holy 
Saturday, which is the eve of Easter, the office is begun 
in the morning in this church, and after it is ended the 
Kyrie Eleison is chanted, until an angel comes and lights the 
lamps which hang over the aforesaid sepulchre f ; of which 
light the patriarch gives their shares to the bishops and to 
the rest of the. people, that each may illuminate his own 
house. The present patriarch is called Theodosius J, and was 
brought to this place on account of his piety from his monas- 
tery, which is fifteen miles from Jerusalem, and was made 
patriarch over all the Christians in the Land of Promise. 
Between the aforesaid four churches is a parvis without roof, 
the walls of which shine with gold, and tlie pavement is 
laid with very precious stone ; and in the middle four chains, 
coming from each of the four churches, join in a point which 
is said to be the middle of the world. 

There is, moreover, in the city, another church on Mount 

* See "Eede's Ecclesiastical History/' book v. chap€. 16 and 17. Bede 
professedly takes his account from Adamnan's narrative of the travels of 
bishop Arculf, and the description referred to will be found at p. 2 of the 
present volume. 

f This was a very celebrated miracle in the middle ages, and will be 
remembered as the cause of the persecution of the Christians in the Holy 
City, and of the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, by the 
khalif Hakem, in a.d. 1008 or 1010. An eastern Christian writer, 
Abulfaragius, tells us that "the author of this persecution was some enemy 
of the Christians, who told Hakem that, when the Christians assembled in 
their temple at Jerusalem, to celebrate Easter, the chaplains of the church, 
making use of a pious fraud, greased the chain of iron that held the lamp 
over the tomb with oil of balsam ; and that, when the Arab officer had sealed 
up the door which led to the tomb, they applied a match, through the roof, 
to the other extremity of the chain, and the fire descended immediately to 
the wick of the lamp and lighted it. Then the worshippers burst into tears, 
and cried out hyrie eleison, supposing it was fire which fell from heaven upon 
the tomb ,• and they were thus strengthened in their faith." This miracle 
was probably instituted after the time when so much encouragement was 
given to the pilgrims under the reign of Charlemagne. It is not mentioned 
in the works that preceded Bernard, but it is often alluded to in subsequent 
writers, and continues still to be practised by the Greeks. 

$ Theodosius was patriarch of Jerusalem from 863 to 879. 

28 BEKNARD THE WISE. [a.D. 867. 

Sion, which is called the Church of St. Simeon, where our 
Lord washed the feet of his disciples, and in which is sus- 
pended our Lord's crown of thorns. St. Mary is said to have 
died in this church. Near it, towards the east, is a church 
in honour of St. Stephen, on the spot where he is believed 
to have been stoned. And, indirectly to the east, is a church 
in honour of St. Peter, in the place where he denied our 
Lord. To the north is the Temple of Solomon, having a 
synagogue of the Saracens -i'. To the south of it are the iron 
gates through which the angel of the Lord led Peter out of 
prison, and which were never opened afterwards. 

Leaving Jerusalem, we descended into the Valley of Je- 
hoshaphat, vrhich is a mile from the city, containing the vil- 
lage of Getlisemane, with the place of the nativity of St. 
Mary. In it is a round church of St. Mary, containing her 
sepulchre, on which the rain never falls, although there is no 
roof above it. There is also a church on the spot where our 
Lord was betrayed, containing the four round tables of his 
Supper. In the Valley of Jehoshaphat there is also a church 
of St. Leon, in which it is said that our Lord will come at 
the Last Judgment. Thence we went to Mount Olivet, on. 
the declivity of which is shown the place of our Lord's 
prayer to the Father. On the side of the same mountain is 
shown the place where the Pharisees brought to our Lord the 
woman taken in adultery, where there is a church in honour 
of St. John, in which is preserved the writing in marble 
which our Lord wrote on the ground f . At the summit of the 
mountain, a mile from the Valley of Jehoshaphat, is the place 
of our Lord's ascension, in the middle of which, on the spot 
from which he ascended, is an altar open to the sky, on 
which mass is celebrated. Thence we proceeded to Bethany, 
which is to the south, on the ascent of the mountain, one 
mile from the top ; there is here a monastery, with a church 

* i. e. tlie Mosque of Omar. 

f The event alluded to occurred in the Temple, and not on the Mount of 
Olives. The notion mentioned in the text must have arisen from a wrong 
reading of the first verses of John, viii. It is stated in the Gospel, John, 
viii. 6, '^ But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, 
as though he heard them not." This writing on the ground was worked up 
into a popular legend in the middle ages, according to which Christ is repre- 
sented as writing on the ground the secret sins of all the persons assembled 
to condemn the woman ; and this, we are told, was the cause that they all 
slunk away ashamed. 


containing the sepulchre of Lazarus ; near which, to the 
north, is a pool in which, by our Lord's command, Lazarus 
washed himself after he had been raised from the dead ; and 
he is said to have been subsequent!}' bishop in Ephesus forty 
years. On the western declivity of Mount Olivet is shown 
the marble from which the Lord descended on the foal of an 
ass. Between these, to the south, in the Valley of Jehosha- 
phat, is the pool of Siloah. 

When we left Jerusalem on the way to Bethlehem, the 
place of our Lord's nativity, distant six miles, we were shown 
the field in which Habakkuk was at w^ork when the angel of 
the Lord ordered him to carry his meal to Daniel in Babylon, 
which is to the south, where Nebuchadnezzar reigned, but 
which is now the haunt of serpents and wild beasts. At 
Bethlehem there is a very large church in honour of St. Mary, 
in the middle of w^hich is a crypt under a stone, the entrance 
of wdiich is from the south, and the egress from the east, in 
wdiich is shown the manger of our Lord, on the west side of 
the crypt. But the place in w^iich our Lord cried, is to the 
east, having an altar where masses are celebrated. Near this 
church, to the south, is a church of the Blessed Innocents, 
the martyrs. One mile from Bethlehem, is the monastery 
of the Holy Shepherds, to whom the angel appeared at our 
Lord's nativity. Lastly, thirty miles to the^ east of J erusa- 
lem is the river Jordan, on which is the monastery of St. 
John ; in w^hich space there are also many other monasteries. 
Among them, one mile to the south of the city of Jerusalem, 
is the church of St. Mamilla, in which are many bodies of 
martyrs slain by the Saracens, and diligently buried there by 

We returned from the holy city of Jerusalem direct to the 
sea, where we took ship, and sailed sixty days in very great 
peril, from the violence of the wind. At length we landed at 
Mons Aureus, where is a crypt containing seven altars, and 
having above it a great forest ; which crypt is so dark, that 
none can enter it without lamps. The abbot there is Dom 
Valentine. Thence we went to Rome, within^ which city, to 
the east, in a place called Lateran, is a well-built church in 
honour of St. John the Baptist, where is the special see of 
the popes ; and there, every year, the keys are carried to 
the ^ope from every part of the city. On the west side 
of Bome is the church of St. Peter, the chief of the Apostles, 

80 BEENARD THE WISE. [A.D. 867. 

where he rests ; the magnitude of which is unequalled hy any 
church in the whole world, and it contains a variety of oraa- 
ments. In which city repose innumerahle hodies of saints. 

Here I separated from my companions ; I myself proceeded 
thence to St. Michael ad Duas Tumbas-'', which is a place 
situated on a mountain that runs out two leagues into the sea. 
At the summit of this mountain is a church in honour of St. 
Michael; the mountain is surrounded by the tide twice 
every day, at morning and evening, and men cannot go to 
the mountain until the sea retires. But on the Feast of St. 
Michael the sea does not join round the mountain w^hen the 
tide comes in, but stands like walls to the right and left, so 
that on that day all who wish to perform their devotions there 
can pass to the mountain any hour of the day, which they 
cannot do on other days. There Phinimontius, a Breton, is 

Now I will tell you how the Christians keep God's law both 
at Jerusalem and in Egypt. The Christians and Pagans 
have there such a peace betw^een them, that if I should go a 
journey, and in the journey my camel or ass which carries 
my baggage should die, and I should leave everj^thing there 
without a guard, and go to the next town to get another, on 
my return I should find all my property untouched. The law 
of public safety is there such, that if they find in a city, or 
on the sea, or on the road, any man journeying by night or by 
day, without a letter, or some mark of a king or prince of that 
land, he is immediately thrown into prison, till the time he 
can give a good account whether he be a spy or not. 

The people of Beneventum, in their pride, slew their 
prince, Sichard, and did great injury to the Christian faith ; 
then they had quarrels and contentions among themselves, 
until Louis, the brother of Lothaire and Charles f, obtained 

* Mount St. Michel, on the coast of Brittany_, which was commonly called 
St. Michel ad tumham or ad tumhasy and was a place of great celebrity in 
the romantic, as well as in the religious, legends of the middle ages. It is 
more than probable that, before the foundation of the monastery, the top of 
the mount was occupied by a cromlech, like so many of the islands on this 

i" Sichard was a cruel and oppressive tyrant, and was deservedly hated by 
his subjects. At length, having attempted to violate the wife of one of his 
nobles, the latter excited the people of Beneventum to revolt; and they 
burst into his palace, and slaughtered him, towards the end of the year 839. 
This act of popular vengeance was succeeded by a period of domestic troubles. 

A.D. 1102.] s^wulf's depaetuee. 31 

the empire over them. And in Eomania many crimes are 
committed, and there are bad people there, banditti and 
thieves, and so men cannot go to Rome to visit St, Peter, un- 
less they join together in troops, and go armed. In Lom- 
bardy, under the reign of the aforesaid Louis, there is tole- 
rably good peace. The Bretons also have peace among them- 
selves ; and it is there the custom that if any one injure 
another, a third immediately comes, whoever he may be who 
witnesses it, and takes up the cause of the injured man as 
though he were his neighbour. And if any one is proved to 
have stolen more than four deniers, they slay him, or hang 
him on a gallows ^'. 

I will add, in conclusion, that we saw in the village of 
Gethsemane squared marble stones of that fineness that a 
man might see any thing he liked in them, as in a looking- 

A.D. 1102 AND 1103. 

I, S^wuLF, though conscious of my own unworthiness, went 
to offer up my prayers at the Holy Sepulchre ; but, owing to 
my sins, or to the badness of the ship, being unable to proceed 
thither by the direct course on the open sea, I will commence 
with an enumeration of the different islands at which we 

Some pilgrims embark at Bari, others at Barlo (Barletta ?), 
some at Siponte, or at Trani; while others take ship at Otranto, 
the entrance port of Apulia. We set sail from Monopoli, one 
day's journey from Bari, on Sunday, being the feast of St. 
Mildred f . But starting at an unlucky hour, as happened to 
us again on a subsequent occasion, we had not proceeded more 

whicli favoured the designs of the Saracens, and ultimately brought Bene- 
ventum under the power or protection of the emperor Louis II., or the Ger- 
manic, (the brother of Lothaire and Charles the Bald, and grandson of 
Charlemagne.) who was emperor and king of Germany from 840 to 876. 

* Salomon III. was count of Brittany at this time ; but history hardly 
bears out Bernard's boasts of the peace and good goyernment of the country 
under his rule. 

t July 13, 1102. 

3S ' S^WULF. [a.d. 1102. 

than three miles, when the mercy of God alone saved us from 
perishing ; for the same day the violunce of the waves wrecked 
our vessel, but with God's help we all reached the shore in 
safety. We then went to Brandia^^, and again our ship, 
being refitted, set sail on an unlucky day f, and reached the 
town of Corfu, on the eve of St. James the Apostle |. From 
thence we were driven by a tempest to the island of Cepha- 
lonia, which we reached on the 1st of August. Here Robert 
Guiscard died§; we also lost some of our party, which was the 
cause of sadness to us. We next touched at Polipolis|l; after 
which we came to the celebrated island of Patras, the city 
of whidi we entered for the sake of praying to St. Andrew the 
Apostle, who suffered martyrdom and was buried here, but 
was afterwards translated to Constantinople. From Patras 
w^e w^ent to Corinth, which we reached on the eve of St. Law- 
rence^]. St. Paul preached the word of God here, and wrote 
an epistle to the citizens. In this place we suffered many 
contrarieties. Thence w^e sailed to the port of Hosta-i'^s from 
which place we proceeded, some on foot, others on asses, to 
the city of Thebes, vulgarly called Stivas. On the eve of St. 
Bartholomew the Apostle ff, we came to Nigropont, where we 
hired another ship. Athens, where the Apostle Paul preached, 
is two days' journey from Corinth ; St. Dionysius was born and 
taught there, and was afterwards converted by St. Paul. 
Here is a church of the blessed Virgin Mary, which has a 
lamp that burns alw^ays and never wants oil. 

We went afterwards to the island of Petalion || ; thence to 
Andros, where are made rich sindals and samits and other 
stuffs of silk. We then touched successively at Tinos, Syra, 

* The modern Brindisi {Brundusium of the ancients). 

"h Die JEgyptiaca, liora jEgyptiaca. The superstitious belief in unlucky, 
or, as they were commonly termed, Egyptian days, was universally prevalent 
in the middle ages ; and the days of the month believed to have this character, 
and on which it was unpropitious to begin or undertake any thing, are often 
marked in the early calendars and other manuscripts. 

X July 24. 

§ See our Introduction. 

11 M. D'Avezac conjectures this to be merely some palceoj)olis, or ancient 
site. No such name as Polipolis can be traced in the maps. 

H Aug. 9. 

** This appears to be the place formerly called Liva d'Osta, now corrupted 
into Livadostro. 

ft Aug. 23. 

ZX The modern Spili. 


Miconi, and Naxia, near which is the famous island of Crete. 
Next we came to Carea (Khero), Amorgo, Samos, Scio, and 
Meteline. We then proceeded to Pathmos, where St. John 
the Apostle and Evangelist, banished by Domitian Caesar, 
wrote the Revelations. On the side towards Smyrna, a 
day's journey distant, is Ephesus, where he afterwards en- 
tered the sepulchre living ; the apostle Paul, moreover, 
wrote an Epistle to the Ephesians. Then we came to the 
isles of Lero and Calimno, and afterwards to Ancho-!^, where 
Galen, the physician most celebrated among the Greeks, 
was born. Thence we passed over to the port of Lidof, a 
city destroyed, where Titus, the disciple of St. Paul, preached. 
Next, to Asus, which is interpreted silvery. 

Our next station was the famous island of Rhodes, which is 
said to have possessed one of the seven wonders of the world, 
the idol called Colossus, which was a hundred and twenty feet 
high, and was destroyed by the Persians, with nearly all the 
province of Romania, when they were on their way to Spain. 
These are the Colossians, to whom St. Paul the Apostle wrote 
his epistle J. Hence, it is a distance of one day to the city 
of Patera, where St. Nicholas the archbishop was born, and 
where we arrived in the evening, after escaping a violent 
storm. Next morning we sailed to an entirely desolate town 
called Mogronissi of St. Mary, which means Long Island, 
which it would appear by the churches and other buildings 
had been inhabited by the Christians, after they had been 
driven by the Turks from Alexandria §. Then we came to 
the city of Myra, w^here St. Nicholas was archbishop, and 

* Stancho, the ancient Cos ; Hippocrates, and not Galen, was bom there. 

f M. D'Avezac is probably right in his conjecture that the Lido of Ssewulf 
represents the ruins of Cnidus, near Cape Crio ; and that Asus, which imme- 
diately follows, is the little island of Syme (Xy^>j), which lies off Cnidus. 
It is likely enough that the local pronunciation of Cnido may have 
been taken by the monkish traveller for something like Lido. No detailed 
legend of St. Titus is preserved. "What is known of him will be found in 
the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, vol. i. p. 163. 

X This is a remarkable blunder, arising from a strange confusion of words 
and ideas. The Colossians were the inhabitants of Colossus, in Phrygia. 
The Persians of Saewulf were the Saracens, who captured llhodes in a.d. 
651. It had been taken by the Persians in 616. 

§ Mogronissi, or Macronisi, is supposed by M. D'Avezac to be the island 
of Kakava, on the western point of which are still traced the ruins of a town 
and church. The Alexandria here alluded to is of course Alexandretta, or 

S4 SJ2WULF. [a.d. 1102. 

•which is the port of the Adriatic Sea, as Constantinople is the 
port of the ^gean Sea. After xhaving worshipped at the se- 
pulchre of the saint, we sailed to the island which is called 
XindacopO'^s which means sixty oars, on account of the force 
of the sea ; near it is the port and district of Finica. Thence 
we sailed over the broad part of the Adriatic Seaf, to the city 
of PafFus (Baffo), vvhich is in the isle of Cyprus, w^here all the 
Apostles met after the ascension of our Lord, and held a 
council for the arrangement of the affairs of the gospel, on 
which occasion they sent forth St. Barnabas to preach ; after 
"whose death St. Peter went thence to Joppa, and sowed the 
seed of God's word there, before he ascended the episcopal 
see of Antioch. 

After leaving the isle of Cyprus, we w^ere tossed about by 
tempestuous weather for seven days and seven nights, being 
forced back one night almost to the spot from which we 
sailed ; but after much suffering, by divine mercy, at sun- rise 
on the eighth day, w^e saw before us the coast of the port of 
Joppa, which filled us with an unexpected and extraordinary 
joy. Thus, after a course of thirteen weeks, as we took ship 
at Monopoli, on a Sunday, having dw^elt constantly on the 
waves of the sea, or in islands, or in deserted cots and sheds 
(for the Greeks are not hospitable), we put into the port of 
Joppa, with great rejoicings and thanksgivings, on a Sunday];. 

And now, my dear friends, all join with me in thanking 
God for his mercy show^n to me through this long voyage ; 
blessed be his name now and evermore ! Listen now to a 
new instance of his mercy shown to me, although the lowest 
of his servants, and to my companions. The very day w^e 
came in sight of the port, one said to me (I believe by divine 
inspiration), " Sir, go on shore to-day, lest a storm come on 
in the night, which will render it impossible to land to- 
morrow." When I heard this, I was suddenly seized with a 
great desire of landing, and, having hired a boat, went into it, 
with all my companions ; but, before I had reached the shore, 
the sea was troubled, and became continually more tempestu- 
ous. We landed, however, with God's grace, without hurt, 
and entering the city weary and hungry, we secured a lodging, 
and reposed ourselves that night. But next morning, as we 

* This is evidently Khelidonia. 

+ This term was then applied to all the eastern part of the Mediterranean, 

^ Sunday, Oct. 12, 1102. 

A.D. 1102.] THE STOEM. 35 

were returning from church, we heard the roaring of the sea, 
and the shouts of the people, and saw that every body was in 
confusion and astonishment. We were also dragged along 
with the crowd to the shore, where we saw the waves swell- 
ing higher than mountains, and innumerable bodies of drowned 
persons of both sexes scattered over the beach, while the 
fragments of ships were floating on every side. Nothing was 
to be heard but the roaring of the sea and the dashing toge- 
ther of the ships, which drowned entirely the shouts and 
clamour of the people. Our own ship, which was a very large 
and strong one, and many others laden with corn and mer- 
chandise, as well as with pilgrims coming and returning, still 
held by their anchors, but how they were tossed by the waves ! 
how their crews were filled with terror ! how they cast over- 
board their merchandise ! what eye of those who were looking 
on could be so hard and stony as to refrain from tears ? We 
had not looked at them long before the ships were driven 
from their anchors by the violence of the waves, which threw 
them now up aloft, and now down, until they were run aground 
or upon the rocks, and there they were beaten backwards and 
forwards until they were crushed to pieces. For the violence 
of the wind would not allow them to put out to sea, and the 
character of the coast would not allow them to^put into shore 
with safety. Of the sailors and pilgrims who had lost all hope 
of escape, some remained on the ships, others laid hold of the 
masts or beams of wood ; many remained in a state of stupor, 
and were drowned in that condition without any attempt to save 
themselves ; some (although it may appear incredible) had in 
my sight their heads knocked off by the very timbers of the 
ships to which they had attached themselves for safety ; others 
were carried out to sea on the beams, instead of being brought 
to land ; even those who knew how to swim had not strength 
to struggle with the waves, and very few thus trusting to their 
own strength reached the shore alive. Thus, out of thirty 
very large ships, of vv^hich some were what are commonly 
called dromunds, some gulafres, and others cats -i^, all laden 

* These were the names of ships in the middle ages, of large dimensions, 
"but for which it would be difficult to assign any thing like equivalents from 
our modern naval nomenclature. The title of palmer {palmarius) was given, 
from an early period, to the pilgrims to the Holy Land ; it is said, on account 
of the palm branches or leaves which they usually brought back with them 
as signs that they had performed the pilgrimage. 

D 2 

36 S^WULF. [a.d. 1102. 

with palmers and with merchandise, scarcely seven remained 
safe when we left the shore. Of persons of both sexes, there 
perished more than a thousand that daj. Indeed, no eye 
ever beheld a greater misfortune in the space of a single day, 
from all which God snatched us by his grace ; to whom be 
honour and glory for ever. Amen. 

We went up from Joppato the city of Jerusalem, a journey 
of two days, by a mountainous road, very rough, and danger- 
ous on account of the Saracens, who lie in wait in the caves 
of the mountains to surprise the Christians, watching both 
day and night to surprise those less capable of resisting by 
the smallness of their company, or the weary, who may 
chance to lag behind their companions. At one moment, you 
see them on every side ; at another, they are altogether in- 
visible, as may be witnessed by any body travelling there. 
Numbers of human bodies lie scattered in the way, and by the 
way-side, torn to piecey by wild beasts. Some may, perhaps, 
wonder that the bodies of Christians are allowed to remain 
unburied, but it is not surprising when we consider that there 
is not much earth on the hard rock to dig a grave ; and if 
earth were not wanting, who would be so simple as to leave 
his company, and go alone to dig a grave for a companion ? 
Indeed, if he did so, he w^ould rather be digging a grave for 
himself than for the dead man. For on that road, not only 
the poor and weak, but the rich and strong, are surrounded 
wdth perils ; many are cut off by the Saracens, but more by 
heat and thirst ; many perish by the want of drink, but more 
by too much drinking. We, however, with all our company, 
reached the end of our journey in safety. Blessed be the 
Lord, who did not turn away my prayer, and hath not turned 
his mercy from me. Amen. 

The entrance to the city of Jerusalem is from the west, 
under the citadel of king David, by the gate which is called 
the gate of David. The hrst place to be visited is the church 
of the Holy Sepulchre, which is called the Martyrdom, not 
only because the streets lead most directly to it, but because 
it is more celebrated than all the other churches ; and that 
rightly and justly, for all the things which were foretold and 
forewritten by the holy prophets of our Saviour Jesus Christ 
were there actually fulfilled. The church itself was royally 
and magnificently built, after the discovery of our Lord's 
cross, by the archbishop Maximus, with the patronage of the 


emperor Constantine, and his mother Helena. In the mid- 
dle of this church is our Lord's Sepulchre, surrounded by a 
very strong wall and roof, lest the rain should fall upon the 
Holy Sepulchre, for the church above is open to the sky. 
This church is situated, like the city, on the declivity of 
Mount Sion. The Roman emperors Titus and Vespasian, 
to revenge our Lord, entirely destroyed the city of 
Jerusalem, that our Lord's prophecy might be fulfilled, 
which, as he approached Jerusalem, seeing the city, he pro- 
nounced, weeping over it, " If thou hadst known, even thou, 
for the day shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall 
cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep 
thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the 
ground, and thy children with thee; and they shall not 
leave in thee one stone upon another."* We know that our 
Lord suffered without the gate. But the emperor Hadrian, 
who was called ^lius, rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, and the 
Temple of the Lord, and added to the city as far as the Tower 
of David, which was previously a considerable distance from 
the city, for any one may see from the Mount of Olivet where 
the extreme western walls of the city stood originally, and 
how much it is since increased. And the emperor called the 
city after his own name ^lia, which is interpreted the House 
of God. Some, however, say that the city w^s rebuilt by the 
emperor Justinian, and also the Temple of the Lord as it is 
now ; but they say that according to supposition, and not ac- 
cording to truth. For the Assyrians f, whose fathers dwelt in 
that country from the first persecution, say that the city was 
taken and destroyed many times after our Lord's Passion, 
along with all the churches, but not entirely defaced. 

In the court of the church of our Lord's sepulchre are seen 
some very holy places, namely, the prison in which our Lord Jesus 
Christ was confined after he was betrayed, according to the testi- 
mony of the Assyrians ; then, a little above, appears the place 
where the holy cross and the other crosses were found, where 
afterwards a large church was built in honour of queen Helena, 
but which has since been utterly destroyed by the Pagans ; 
and below, not far from the prison, stands the marble column 
to which our Lord Jesus Christ was bound in the common 

* Luke, xlx. 42-44. 

f By the Assyrians, who are subsequently mentioned more than once, we 
are to understand the Syrian Christians, as distinguished from the Grreeks. 

38 S.EWULF. [a.d. 1102* 

hall, and scourged with most cruel stripes. Near this is the 
spot where our Lord was stripped of his garments hy the 
soldiers ; and next, the place where he was clad in a purple 
vest hy the soldiers, and crowned with the crown of thorns, 
and they cast lots for his garments. Next we ascend Mount 
Calvary, where the patriarch Abraham raised an altar, and 
prepared, by God's command, to sacrifice his own son ; there 
afterwards the Son of God, whom he prefigured, was offered 
up as a sacrifice to God the Father for the redemption of the 
world. The rock of that mountain remains a witness of our 
Lord's passion, being much cracked near the foss in which 
our Lord's cross was fixed, because it could not suffer the 
death of its Maker without splitting, as we read in the Pas- 
sion, " and the rocks rent."-:^ Below is the place called Gol- 
gotha,where Adam is said to have been raised to life by the blood 
of our Lord which fell upon him, as is said in the Passion, 
*' And many bodies of the saints wiiich slept arose. "f But in 
the Sentences of St. Augustine, we read that he was buried 
in Hebron, where also the three patriarchs were afterwards 
buried with their mves ; Abraham with Sarah, Isaac with 
Rebecca, and Jacob with Leah ; as w^ell as the bones of Jo- 
seph, which the Children of Israel carried with them from 
Egypt. Near the place of Calvary is the church of St. Mary, 
on the spot where the body of our Lord, after having been 
taken down from the cross, was anointed before it was buried, 
^nd wrapped in a linen cloth or shroud. 

At the head of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the 
w^all outside, not far from the place of Calvary, is the place 
called Compas, which our Lord Jesus Christ himself signified 
and measured with his own hand as the middle of the world, 
according to the words of the Psalmist, " For God is my king 
of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. " I But some 
say that that is the place where our Lord Jesus Christ first ap- 
peared to Mary Magdalene, while she sought him weeping, and 
thought be had been a gardener, as is related in the Gospel. 
These most holy places of prayer are contained in the court of 
our Lord's Sepulchre, on the east side. In the sides of the 
church itself are attached, on one side and the other, two most 
beautiful chapels in honour of St. Mary and St. John, as they, 
participating in our Lord's sufferings, stationed themselves be- 

- * Matth. xxvii. 51. t lb- 52. t Psal. Ixxiv. 12. 


side liim here and there. On the west wall of the chapel of St. 
Mary is seen the picture of our Lord's Mother, painted ex- 
ternally, who once, by speaking wonderfully through the Holy 
Spirit, in the form in which she is here painted, comforted Mary 
the Egyptian, when she repented with her whole heart, and 
sought the help of the Mother of our Lord, as we read in her 
life. On the other side of the church of St. John is a very 
fair monastery of the Holy Trinity, in which is the place of 
the baptistery, to v/hich adjoins the chapel of St. John the 
Apostle, who first filled the pontifical see at Jerusalem. These 
are all so composed and arranged, that any one standing in 
the furthest church may clearly perceive the five churches 
from door to door. 

Without the gate of the Holy Sepulchre, to the south, is 
the church of St. Mary, called the Latin, because the 
monks there perform divine service in the Latin tongue; 
and the Assyrians say that the blessed Mother of our Lord, 
at the crucifixion of her Son, stood on the spot now occupied 
by the altar of this church. Adjoining to this church is an- 
other church of St. Mary, called the Little, occupied by nuns 
who serve devoutly the Virgin and her Son. Near which is 
the Hospital, where is a celebrated monastery founded in honour 
of St. John the Baptist. 

We descend from our Lord's sepulchre, about the distance 
of two arbalist- shots, to the Temple of the Lord, which is to 
the east of the Holy Sepulchre, the court of which is of great 
length and breadth, having many gates ; but the principal 
gate, which is in front of the Temple, is called the Beautiful, 
on account of its elaborate workmanship and variety of co- 
lours, and is the spot where Peter healed Claudius, when he 
and John went up into the Temple at the ninth hour of 
prayer, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. The place 
where Solomon built the Temple was called anciently Bethel; 
whither Jacob repaired by God's command, and where he 
dwelt, and saw the ladder whose summit touched heaven, and 
the angels ascending and descending, and said, " Truly this 
place is holy," as we read in Genesis. There he raised a 
stone as a memorial, and constructed an altar, and poured oil 
upon it; and in the same place afterwards, by God's will, So- 
lomon built a temple to the Lord of magnificent and incom« 
parable work, and decorated it wonderfully with every orna- 
ment, as we read in the Book of Kings. It exceeded all the 

40 S.EWULF. [a.D. 110*2. 

mountains around in height, and all Avails and buildings in 
brilliancy and glory. In the middle of which temple is seen 
a high and large rock, hollowed beneath, in which was the 
Holy of Holies. In this place Solomon placed the Ark of the 
Covenant, having the Manna and the Rod of Aaron, which 
flourished and budded there and produced almonds, and 
the two Tables of the Testament ; here our Lord Jesus Christ, 
wearied with the insolence of the Jews, was accustomed to 
repose ; here was the place of confession, where his disciples 
confessed themselves to him ; here the angel Gabriel ap- 
peared to Zacharias, saying, " Thou shalt receive a child in 
thy old age ;" here Zacharias, the son of Barachias, was slain 
between the temple and the altar ; here the child Jesus was 
circumcised on the eighth day, and named Jesus, which is in 
terpreted Saviour ; hero the Lord Jesus was offered by his 
parents, with the Virgin Mary, on the day of her purification, 
and received by the aged Simeon ; here, also, when Jesus 
was twelve years of age, he was found sitting in the midst of 
the doctors, hearing and interrogating them, as we read in the 
Gospel ; here afterwards he cast out the oxen, and sheep, and 
pigeons, saying, '' My house shall be a house of prayer;'' and 
here he said to the Jews, *' Destroy this temple, and in 
three days I will raise it up." There still are seen in the 
rock the footsteps of our Lord, when he concealed himself, 
and went out from the Temple, as we read in the Gospel, 
lest the Jews should throw at him the stones they carried. 
Thither the woman taken in adultery was brought before 
Jesus by the Jews, that they might find some accusation 
against him^^. There is the gate of the city on the eastern 
side of the Temple, which is called the Golden, where Joa- 
chim, the father of the Blessed Mary, by order of the Angel 
of the Lord, met his wife Anne. By the same gate the Lord 
Jesus, coming from Bethany on the day of olives, sitting on 
an ass, entered the city of Jerusalem, while the children sang, 
*'Hosanna to the son of David." By this gate the emperor 
Heraclius entered Jerusalem, when he returned victorious 
from Persia, with the cross of our Lord ; but the stones first 
fell down and closed up the passage, so that the gate became 
one mass, until humbling himself at the admonition of an 
angel, he descended from his horse, and so the entrance was 

* John, ii. 19. 


opened to him. In the court of the Temple of the Lord, to 
the south, is the Temple of Solomon, of wonderful magnitude, 
on the east side of which is an oratory containing the cradle 
of Christ, and his hath, and the hed of the Virgin Mary, ac- 
cording to the testimony of the Assyrians^-'. 

From the Temple of the Lord you go to the church of St. 
Anne, the mother of the Blessed Mary, towards the north, 
where she lived w^ith her husband, and she was there de- 
livered of her daughter Mary. Near it is the pool called in 
Hebrew Bethsaida, having five porticoes, of which the Gospel 
speaks. A little above is the place where the woman was 
healed by our Lord, by touching the hem of his garment, 
while he was surrounded by a crowd in the street f. 

From St. Anne we pass through the gate which leads to 
the Valley of Jehoshaphat, to the church of St. Mary in the 
same valley, where she was honourably buried by the Apostles 
after her death; her sepulchre, as is just and proper, is re- 
vered with the greatest honours by the faithful, and monks 
perform service there day and night. Here is the brook 
Cedron; here also is Gethsemane, where our Lord came 
with his disciples from Momit Sion, over the brook 
Cedron, before the hour of his betrayal ; there is a certain 
oratory where he dismissed Peter, James, and John, saying, 
*' Tarry ye here, and watch with me;" J: and going forward, 
he fell on his face and prayed, and came to his disciples, and 
found them sleeping : the places are still visible where the 
disciples slept, apart from each other. Gethsemane is at the 
foot of Mount Olivet, and the brook Cedron below, between 
Mount Sion and Mount Olivet, as it were the division of the 
mountains ; and the low ground between the mountains is the 
Valley of Jehoshaphat. A little above, in Mount Olivet, is an 

* It may be necessary to remind the reader that the building of which 
Ssewulf is here talking was the Mosque of Omar, which, during the long 
period that Jerusalem had remained in the hands of the Saracens, had been 
entirely closed from the examination of Christians. Now that the Holy City 
had fallen under the power of the Crusaders, it was thrown open to public 
inspection, and the monks appear to have laboured industriously to identify 
every part of the Saracenic edifice with the events of Scripture. Probably 
some portions of the ancient building were worked up into the Mohammedan 
mosque ; but Saewulf 's description will show us how cautious we ought to be 
in receiving these traditionary identifications of the localities of Scripture 

t Matth. ix. 20. J Matth. xxvi. 38. 

43 S^WULF. [a.d. 1102. 

oratory in the place where our Lord prayed, as we read in 
the Passion, "And he was withdrawn from them about a 
stone's cast, and being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, 
and his sweat was, as it w^ere, great drops of blood falling 
down to the ground."-^ Next we come to Aceldama, the 
field bought with the price of the Lord, also at the foot of 
Mount Olivet, near a valley about three or four arbalist- 
shots to the south of Gethsemane, where are seen innumer- 
able monuments. That field is near the sepulchres of the 
holy fathers Simeon the Just and Joseph the foster-father of 
our Lord. These two sepulchres are ancient structures, in 
the manner of towers, cut into the foot of the mountain itself. 
We next descend, by Aceldama, to the fountain which is 
called the Pool of Siloah, w^here, by our Lord's command, the 
man born blind washed his eyes, after the Lord had anointed 
them with clay and spittle. 

From the church of St. Mary before mentioned, we go up 
by a very steep path nearly to the summit of Mount Olivet, 
towards the east, to the place whence our Lord ascended to 
heaven in the sight of his disciples. The place is sur- 
rounded by a little tower, and honourably adorned, with an 
altar raised on the spot within, and also surrounded on all 
sides with a wall. On the spot where the Apostles stood with 
his mother, wondering at his ascension, is an altar of St. Mary; 
there the two men in white garments stood by them, saying, 
**Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven?'* 
About a stone's throw from that place is the spot where, ac- 
cording to the Assyrians, our Lord wrote the Lord's Prayer 
in Hebrew, with his own fingers, on marble ; and there a 
very beautiful church was built, but it has since been entirely 
destroyed by the Pagans, as are all the churches outside the 
walls, except the church of the Holy Ghost on Mount Sion, 
about an arrow-shot from the wall to the north, where the 
Apostles received the promise of the Father, namely, the 
Paraclete Spirit, on the day of Pentecost ; there they made 
the Creed. In that church is a chapel in the place where 
the Blessed Mary died. On the other side of the church is 
the chapel where our Lord Jesus Christ first appeared to the 
Apostles after his resurrection, and it is called Galilee, as he 
said to the Apostles, *' After I am risen again, I will go be- 

* Luke, xxii. 41-44. 


fore you unto Galilee."* That place was called Galilee, be- 
cause the Apostles, who were called Galileans, frequently rested 

The great city of Galilee is by Mount Tabor, a journey 
of three days from Jerusalem. On the other side of Mount 
Tabor is the city called Tiberias, and after it Capernaum and 
Nazareth, on the sea of Galilee or sea of Tiberias, whither 
Peter and the other Apostles, after the resurrection, returned 
to their fishing, and where the Lord afterwards showed him- 
self to them on the sea. Near the city of Tiberias is the 
field where the Lord Jesus blessed the five loaves and two 
fishes, and afterwards fed four thousand men with them, as 
we read in the Gospel. But I will return to my immediate 

In the Galilee of Mount Sion, where the Apostles were 
concealed in an inner chamber, with closed doors, for fear of 
the Jews, Jesus stood in the middle of them and said, *' Peace 
be unto you;"f and he again appeared there when Thomas 
put his finger into his side and into the place of the nails. 
There he supped with his disciples before the Passion, and 
washed their feet; and the marble table is still preserved 
there on which he supped. There the relics of St. Stephen, 
Nicodemus, Gamaliel, and Abide, were honourably deposited 
by St. John the Patriarch after they were found. The stoning 
of St. Stephen took place about two or three arbalist-shots with- 
out the wall, to the north, where a very handsome church was 
built, which has been entirely destroyed by the Pagans. The 
church of the Holy Cross, about a mile to the west of Jerusalem, 
in the place where the holy cross was cut out, and which was 
also a very handsome one, has been similarly laid waste by 
the Pagans ; but the destruction here fell chiefly on the 
surrounding buildings and the cells of the monks, the church 
itself not having suffered so much. Under the wall of the 
city, outside, on the declivity of Mount Sion, is the church of 
St. Peter, which is called the Galilean, where, after having 
denied his Lord, he hid himself in a very deep crypt, as 
may still be seen there, and there wept bitterly for his offence. 
About three miles to the west of the church of the Holy 

* Matth. xxvi. 32. It is hardly necessary to state that the giving the 
name of Galilee to this church was a mere legendary blunder, originating in 
the desire to crowd several holy places in one spot. 

t John, XX. 19. 

44 SJEWULF. [a.d. 1102. 

Cross is a very fine and large monastery in honour of St. 
Saba, who was one of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. There were above three hundred Greek monks 
living there, in the service of the Lord and of the Saint, of 
whom the greater part have been slain by the Saracens, and 
the few who remain have taken up their abode in another 
monastery of the same Saint, within the walls of the city, 
near the tower of David, their other monastery being left 
entirely desolate. 

The city of Bethlehem in Judea is six miles to the north 
of Jerusalem. The Saracens have left nothing there habitable, 
but every thing is destroyed (as in the other holy places with- 
out the walls of the city of Jerusalem) except the monastery 
of the blessed Virgin Mary, which is a large and noble 
building. In the church there is a crypt under the choir, 
about the middle, in which is seen the place of our Lord's 
nativity, as it were to the left. A little lower, to the right, 
near the place of the nativity, is the manger where the ox 
and ass stood when the child was placed before them in it ; 
and the stone which supported the head of our Saviour in the 
sepulchre, which was brought hither from Jerusalem by St. 
Jerome the Presbyter, may be seen in the manger. St. Jerome 
himself rests in the same church, under the altar, to the 
north-east; and the innocents who were slain for the infant 
Christ, by Herod, lie under the altar on the north part of the 
church, as well as the two most holy women, Paula and her 
daughter Eustochium, the virgin. There is the marble table 
on which the blessed Virgin Mary eat with the three Magians, ■ 
after they had given their offerings. There is a cistern in the 
church, near the crypt of our Lord's nativity, into which the 
star is said to have fallen. There, also, is said to be the bath 
of the blessed Virgin Mary. 

Bethany, where Lazarus w^as raised by our Lord from the 
dead, is distant from the city about two miles to the east, on 
the other side of Mount OUvet, and contains the church of 
St. Lazarus, in which is seen his sepulchre, as well as those 
of many bishops of Jerusalem. Under the altar is the place 
where Mary Magdalene washed the feet of our Lord Jesus with 
her tears, and wiped them with her hair, and kissed his feet and 
anointed them with ointment. Bethphage, where our Lord 
sent forward his disciples to the city, is on Mount Olivet, but 
nearly all traces of it have disappeared. Jericho, where is the 


garden of Abraham, is ten leagues from Jerusalem, in a land 
covered with trees, and producing all kinds of palms and other 
fruits. There is the well of the prophet Elisha, the water of 
which was most bitter to drink and productive of sterility, until 
he blessed it and threw salt into it, when it became sweet. This 
place is surrounded on every side by a beautiful plain. From 
thence we ascend a lofty mountain, to the spot where our Lord 
fasted forty days, and where he was afterwards tempted by 
Satan, about three miles from Jericho. 

The river Jordan is four leagues to the east of Jericho. 
On this side Jordan is the region called Judea, as far as the 
Adriatic Sea, that is, to the port which is called Joppa ; on 
the other side Jordan is Arabia, most hostile to Christians, 
and hateful to all who worship God, in which is the mountain 
whence Elijah was carried into heaven in a fiery chariot. 
It is eighteen days' journey from Jordan to Mount Sinai, 
where the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and 
where, afterw^ards, Moses ascended by God's command, and 
was there fasting forty days and as many nights, and there 
received from the Lord the tw^o stone tables, written by the 
finger of God, to teach the Children of Israel the law and the 
commandments, which w^ere contained in the same tables. 

Hebron, where the holy patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob repose, each with his wife, and where Adam, the first 
of mankind, is also buried, is distant from Bethlehem four 
leagues to the south. Here king David reigned seven years, 
before he obtained possession of the city of Jerusalem from 
the family of king Saul. The city of Hebron, which was 
large and very handsome, is destroyed by the Saracens. On 
the eastern side of it the monuments of the holy patriarchs, 
of ancient workmanship, are surrounded by a very strong castle, 
each of the three monuments being like a great church, with 
two sarcophagi placed in a very honourable manner within, 
that is, one for the man and one for the woman ; and, even at 
the present day, the smell of the balsam and precious aro- 
matics with which the bodies were anointed, rising sweetly 
from the sepulchre, fills the nostrils of those who stand round 
them. But the bones of Joseph, which the Children of Israel, 
us he had charged them, brought with them out of Egypt, are 
buried, more humbly than the rest, as it were, at the extre- 
mity of the castle. The holm-oak, under the shade of which 
Abraham stood when he saw the three youths descending by 

46 s^wuLF. [a.d. 1102. 

the road, still flourishes and bears leaves, according to the 
statement of the inhabitants of the place, not far distant from 
the aforesaid castle. 

The city of Nazareth of Galilee, where the blessed Virgin 
Mary received the salutation of our Lord's nativity from the 
angel, is about four days' journey from Jerusalem, the road 
lying through Sichem, a city of Samaria, v/hich is now called 
Neapolis, vrhere St. John the Baptist received sentence of 
decollation from Herod. There, also, is the well of Jacob, 
where Jesus, weary with his journey, thirsty, and sitting upon, 
the well, condescended to ask water of the Samaritan woman 
who came thither to draw it, as we read in the Gospel. From 
Sichem we come to Caesarea of Palestine, from Csesarea to 
Cayphas -i', and from Cayphas to Accaronf. Nazareth is about 
eight miles to the east of Accaron. The city of Nazareth is 
entirely laid waste and overthrown by the Saracens ; but the 
place of the annunciation of our Lord is indicated by a very 
noble monastery. A most limpid fountain bubbles out near 
the city, still surrounded, as formerly, with marble columns 
and blocks, from which the child Jesus, with other children, 
often drew water for the use of his mother. 

From Nazareth we proceed about four miles to the east, to 
Mount Tabor, the scene of our Lord's transfiguration, which 
is covered in an extraordinary manner with grass and flowers, 
and rises in the middle of the green plain of Galilee so as to 
exceed in altitude all the mountains which, though at a 
distance, surround it. On the summit still remain three 
ancient monasteries ; one in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ ; 
another in honour of Moses ; and a third, at some distance 
from the others, in honour of Elias, according to the words of 
Peter, " Lord, it is good for us to be here ; if thou wilt, let us 
make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, 
and one for Elias. ";]: 

The sea of Galilee is about six miles from Mount Tabor to 
the east and north-east, and is about ten miles long by five in 
breadth. The city of Tiberias stands on the sea-shore on one 
side, and on the other side are Corozaim and Bethsaida, the 
city of Andrew and Peter. About four miles to the north- 
east of the city of Tiberias is the castle of Gennesareth, where 
the Lord appeared to the disciples when fishing, as we learn 

* Kaiffa. t Acre. t Matth. xyii. 4. 


from the Gospel. About two miles to the east of Gennesareth 
is the mount on which our Lord Jesus fed five thousand men 
with five loaves and two fishes. This mount is called by 
the inhabitants our Lord's table ; and at its foot stands a very 
beautiful church of St. Peter, but deserted. Six miles to the 
north-east of Nazareth, on a hill, is Cana of Galilee, where our 
Lord converted water into wine at the marriage feast. There 
nothing is left standing except the monastery called that of 
Architriclinius'!'. About half way between Nazareth and 
Galilee is a castle which is called Roma, where all travellers 
from Accaron to Tiberias are lodged, having Nazareth on the 
right, and Galilee to the left. 

A day's journey to the north-east of Tiberias is Mount 
Libanus, at the foot of which the river Jordan boils out from 
two foundations, of which one is called Jor, and the other 
Dan ; the streams of which, joining in one, become a very 
rapid river, and take the name of Jordan. Its origin is near 
Caesarea, the city of Philip the Tetrarch, in the district 
where Jesus, as is related in the Gospel, interrogated his 
disciples, saying, '* Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, 
am?"f Now the river Jordan, flowing from its spring with 
a very rapid course, falls into the sea of Galilee on one side, 
and passing out of it on the opposite side, by tlie violence of 
its current, makes itself a bed, through w^hich it runs a 
distance of eight days' journey, and then falls into the Dead 
Sea. The water of the Jordan is whiter and more of a milky 
colour than any other water, and it may be distinguished by 
its colour a long distance into the Dead Sea. 

Having, to the best of our power, visited and paid our 
devotion at all the holy places in the city of Jerusalem and the 
surrounding country, we took ship at Joppa on the day of 
Pentecost I, on our return; but, fearing to meet the fleet of 
the Saracens, we did not venture out into the open sea by the 
same course we came, but sailed along the coast by several cities, 
some of which have fallen into the hands of the Franks, while 

* The medieval theologians made a proper name of Arcliitriclinius, or, as 
they called him popularly, St. Architriclin, whom they looked upon as the 
lord of the feast on the occasion alluded to, and the person in whose especial 
favour Christ performed the miracle. It is hardly necessarj^ to say that 
arcMtriclinus is the Latin word which, in the Yulgate, translates what the 
English text terms " the ruler of the feast." 

t Matth. xvi. 13. t May 17, 1103. 

48 stewulf. [a.d. 1103. 

others still remain in the power of the Saracens. Their names 
are as follows : — First, after Joppa, is the town called popularly 
Atsuph, hut in Latin, Azotum ; next, Csesarea of Palestine ; 
and then Cayphas. Baldwin, the flower of kings, has posses- 
sion of these cities. Next after these is the very strong city 
of Acre, which is called Accaron ; then Sur and Sagete, which 
are Tyre and Sidon; then Jubelet; then Baruth; and then 
Tartusa, which is in possession of duke Baimund. Next 
Gibel, where are the mountains of Gilboa ; and then Tripolis 
and Lice. We passed by all these cities*. 

On the Wednesday of Pentecost, as we were sailing between 
Cayphas and Accaron f, twenty-six ships of the Saracens sud- 
denly came in sight, the forces of the admiral of Tyre and 
Sidon, which were carrying an army to Babylonia to assist 
the Chaldeans in making war on the king of Jerusalem ; 
upon which two of our ships, which had come with us from 
Joppa full of palmers, leaving our ship behind because they 
were lighter, fled in all haste to Csesarea. The Saracens, 
encircling our ship on all sides, at the distance of about an 
arrow's shot, rejoiced in the prospect of such a rich prey ; but 
our men, ready to meet death in the cause of Christ, took to 
their arms, and stationed themselves as quickly as possible 
on the castle of the ship ; for our dromund carried about two 
hundred soldiers. After the space of about an hour, the 
commander of the hostile fleet held a council, and sent a 
sailor up the mast of his ship, which was the largest, that he 
might give information of our condition and preparations ; 
and as soon as he understood from him the bold countenance 
we showed, they hoisted their sails and put out to sea, and so 
that day the Lord by his grace snatched us from our enemies. 

* The names of these cities, in the modern nomenclature, are Arsoiiph, 
Kaisariyah, KaifFa, Akre, Sour, Sayd, Gjobayl, Bey rout, Tortus, Gebely, 
Tripoli, and Laodicea, the latter of which was the place named by Ssewulf 
Lice. Jacobus de Vitriaco (Hist. Hierosol., cap. 44) says, " Laodicia Syria? 
nuncupata, vulgariter autem Liche nominatur." Our traveller, however, 
perhaps by a confusion of his memory, having no map before him, has given 
these places out of their right order. Perhaps, as M. B'Avezac suggests, the 
fear of the Saracen cruisers drove him sometimes out of his right course. 

Baldwin had been made king of Jerusalem on Christmas-day, in the year 
1100. Tortosa was captured by Raymond, duke of Toulouse, on the 12th 
of March, 1102. 

f Acre was not taken by the crusaders till the 15th of May, 1104, the 
year after our traveller's return. 


Some of our people from Joppa afterwards took three of the 
ships we had seen, and enriched themselves with their spoils. 

Thus making our way as well as we could along the coast 
of Syria, in eight days we reached the port of St. Andrew, 
in the isle of Cyprus * ; and thence, next day, w^e sailed to- 
wards Romania, passing the port of St. Simon, and the port of 
St. Mary, and after many days reached Little Antiochf. In 
tliis part of the voyage w^e were several times attacked by 
j)irates ; but, under the Divine protection, we escaped unhurt 
from the attacks of enemies and the shocks of tempests. 
Then directing our course along the coast of Romania, and 
passing the towns of Stamirra| and Patras of St. Nicholas, 
we with difficulty reached the island of Rhodes on the eve of 
St. John the Baptist §, after a narrow escape from wreck in 
the bay of Satalia. At Rhodes we hired a smaller ship, that 
we might proceed more rapidly, and then returned to the 
coast of Romania. We then came to Stromlo||, a very fair 
city, but entirely laid waste by the Turks, and there we were 
detained many days by a strong contrary wind. Then we 
came to the island of Samos, and having bought provisions 
there, as we did in all the islands, we arrived at length at 
the island of Scio, where we parted with our ship and 
company, and undertook the journey to Constantinople, to 
perform our devotions there. After leaving Scio, we passed by 
the great town of Smyrna, and came to the island of Meteline, 
and then to TenitH, near which, on the coast of Romania, 
was the very ancient and famous city of Troy, the ruins of the 
buildings of which, as the Greeks say, are still apparent over 
a space of many miles. 

After leaving this place, we came to the narrow sea which 
is called the arm of St. George, which divides the two lands, 
Romania and Macedonia, through which we sailed to St. 
Phemius, having Greece to the right, and Macedonia to the 
left. The city of St. Phemius the bishop is on one side of 

* Cape St. Andrea is the north-eastern point of the island of Cyprus. 

+ i. e. Antiochetta. 

Z Stamina is the same place which Saswulf has before called Myra. 
M. D'Avezac points out documents of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, 
in which it is named Astamirle, Stamire, and Stamir. 

§ June 23. 

II Stromlo, as M. D'Avezac observes, is evidently the ancient Astypalaea, 
now called Stampali. 

^ Tenit is the island of Tenedos. 


the arm, in Macedonia, and another city, which is called 
Samthe, stands on the other side in Greece, so that two or 
three arbalist-shots would reach from one city to the other -s^. 
They are said to be the keys of Constantinople. Then we 
sailed by Callipolis, and Agios Georgios, and Paniados, and 
other notable castles of Macedonia, and came to the city of 
Rothostoca, after Michaelmas. We came next to the noble 
city of Raclea, whence, according to the Greeks, Helen was 
ravished by Paris Alexander f. 

A.D. 1107—1111. 

(from the Heimskringla, or Chronicle oe the Kings of Norway, 
BY Samuel Laing, Esq.) 

After king Magnus Barefoot's fall, his sons, Eystein, Sigurd, 
and Olaf j, took the kingdom of Norway. Eystein got the 
northern, and Sigurd the southern parts of the country. King 
Olaf was then four or five years old, and the third part of the 
country which he had was under the management of his two 
brothers. King Sigurd was chosen king when he was thirteen 
or fourteen years old, and Eystein v/as a year older. When 
king Magnus's sons were chosen kings, the men who had fol- 
lowed Skopte Ogmundsson returned home. Some had been 
to Jerusalem, some to Constantinople ; and there they had 
made themselves renowned, and they had many kinds of no- 
velties to talk about. By these extraordinary tidings many 
men in Norway were incited to the same expedition ; and it 
was also told that the Northmen who liked to go into the 
military service at Constantinople found many opportunities 
of getting property. Then these Northmen desired much 
that one of the two kings, either Eystein or Sigurd, should 
go as commander of the troop which was preparing for this 

* M. D'Avezac suggests that perhaps St. Euphemius and Samthe represent 
the ancient Eleonta on one coast, and the ancient ^antium, near the mouth of 
the Xanthus, on the other. 

+ Ssewulf's relation seems to break off abruptly here, probably by the 
fault of the scribe ; but, unfortunately, we know of no other manuscript that 
might furnish us with an account of his adventures at Constantinople on his 
return home. 

X They reigned from about 1103 to about 1130. 

A.D. 1107, 1108.] ENGLAND — SPAIN. 61 

expedition. The kings agreed to this, and carried on the 
equipment at their common expense. Many great men, both 
of the lendermen and bonders, took part in this enterprize ; 
and when all was ready for the journey, it was determined 
that Sigurd should go, and Eystein, in the mean time, should 
rule the kingdom upon their joint account. 

A year or two after king Magnus's fall, Hakon, a son of 
earl Paul, came from Orkney. The kings gave him the earl- 
dom and government of the Orkney Islands, as the earls 
before him, his father Paul or his uncle Erlend, had pos- 
sessed it ; and earl Hakon then sailed back immediately ta 

Four years after the fall of king Magnus, king Sigurd sailed 
with his fleet of sixty ships from Norway. So says Thorarin 
Stutfeld :— 

^' A young king just and kind, 
People of loyal mind : 
Such brave men soon agree, — 
To distant lands they sail with glee. 
To the distant Holy Land 
A brave and pious band, 
Magnificent and gay, 
In sixty long ships glide away." 

King Sigurd sailed in autumn to England, where Henry, 
son of William the Bastard, was then king, and Sigurd re- 
mained with him all winter. So says Einar Skuleson : — 
'' The king is on the waves ! 
The storm he boldly braves. 
His ocean steed, 
With winged speed, 
O'er the white-flashing surges, 
To England's coast he urges ; 
And there he stays the winter o'er : 
More gallant king ne'er trod that shore." 

In spring ^- king Sigurd and his fleet sailed w^estward to Val- 
landf, and in autumn came to Galicia|, where he staid the 
second winter. So says Einar Skuleson : — 

" Our king, whose land so wide 
No kingdom stands beside, 
In Jacob's land§ next winter spent. 
On holy things intent ; 

* A.D. 1108. f Yalland, the west of France. 

X Galizo land, the province of Gfalicia, in the north-west of Spain. 
§ Jacob's land. Galicia is called Jacob's land by the scald, from St. James 
of Compostella : the apostle James, whose relics are held in veneration at 

E 2 

53 SIGURD THE CRUSADER. [a.D. 1109. 

And I have heard the royal youth 
Cut off an earl who swerved from truth. 
Our brave king will endure no ill, — 
The hawks with him will get their fill.'* 

It went thus: — The earl who ruled over the land made an 
agreement with king Sigurd, that he should provide king 
Sigurd and his men a market at which they could purchase 
victuals all the winter ; but this he did not fulfil longer than 
to about Yule. It began then to be difficult to get food and 
necessaries, for it is a poor barren land. Then king Sigurd 
wdth a great body of men went against a castle which belonged 
to the earl ; and the earl fled from it, having but few people. 
King Sigurd took there a great deal of victuals and of other 
booty, which he put on board of his ships, and then made 
ready and proceeded westward to Spain. It so fell out, as 
the king was sailing past Spain, that some pirates who were 
cruising for plunder met him with a fleet of galleys, and king 
Sigurd attacked them. This was his first battle with heathen 
men ; and he won it, and took eight galleys from them. So 
says Halldor Skualldre : — 

" Bold Askings, not slow 

To the death-fray to go. 

Meet our Norse king by chance. 

And their galleys advance. 

The bold vikings lost 

Many a man of their host, 

And eight galleys too, 

With cargo and crew." 
Thereafter king Sigurd sailed against a castle called 
Sintre"^, and fought another battle. This castle is in Spain, 
and was occupied by many heathens, who from thence plun- 
dered Christian people. King Sigurd took the castle, and 
killed every man in it, because they refused to be baptized ; and 
he got there an immense booty. So sings Halldor Skualldre : — 

" From Spain I have much news to tell 
Of what our generous king befell. 
And first he routs the viking crew. 
At Cintra next the heathens slew ; 
The men he treated as Grod's foes. 
Who dared the true faith to oppose. 
No man he spared who would not take 
The Christian faith for Jesus' sake." 

Compostella in Spain. Portugal appears to have been reckoned part of Spain, 
and Gralicia a distinct country. 

* Sintre, now Cintra, in Portugal ; then reckoned part of Spain, 


After this king Sigurd sailed with Lis fleet to Lisbon, which 
is a great city in Spain, half Christian and half heathen ; for 
there lies the division between Christian Spain and heathen 
Spain-, and all the districts which lie west of the city are 
occupied by heathens. There king Sigurd had his third bat- 
tle with the heathens, and gained the victory, and with it a 
great booty. So says Halldor Skualldre : — 

" The son of kings on Lisbon's plains 
A third and bloody battle gains. 
He and his Norsemen boldly land, 
Running their stout ships on the strand." 
Then king Sigurd sailed westwards along heathen Spain, 
and brought up at a town called Alkassif; and here he had 
his fourth battle with the heathens, and took the town, and 
killed so many people that the town was left empty. They 
got there also immense booty. So says Halldor Skualldre : — 

" A fourth great battle, I am told. 
Our Norse king and his people hold 
At Alkassi ; and here again 
The victory fell to our Norsemen." 

And also this verse : — 

*^ I heard that through the town he went. 
And heathen widows' wild lament ^ 
Eesounded in the empty halls ; 
For every townsman flies or falls." 

King Sigurd then proceeded on his voyage, and came to 
Norfa Sound I; and in the Sound he was met by a large 
viking force, and the king gave them battle : and this was his 
fifth engagement with heathens since the time he left Norway. 
So says Halldor Skualldre : — 

" Ye moistened your dry swords with blood, 
As through Niorfa Sound ye stood : 
The screaming raven got a feast, 
As ye sailed onward to the East." 

* The heathen Spain would be the parts of the Peninsula occupied by the 

f There is some difficulty in finding a town corresponding to this Alkassi. 
It cannot be Alkassir in Fez, in Africa, as some have supposed, as the context 
does not agree with it ; nor with Algesiras, which is within the Straits of 
Gibraltar (Norfasund), and it would have been so described. Alcasser de Sal 
lies too far inland to have been the place. Lady Grosvenor, in her Yacht 
Voyage, 1841, speaks of a Moorish palace near Seville, called Alcasir, which 
%vould correspond best with the Saga account. 

X Norfa Sound, the Straits of Gibraltar ; so called from Norfa, the first 
Norse viking who passed through it. 

54 SIGUKD THE CRUSADER. [a.D. 1109. 

King Sigurd then sailed eastward along the coast of Serk- 
land^^, and came to an island there called Formentara. There 
a great many heathen Moors had taken up their dwelling in 
a cave, and had built a strong stone- wall before its mouth. It 
was high up to climb to the wall, so that whoever attempted 
to ascend was driven back with stones or missile weapons. 
They harried the country all round, and carried all their booty 
to their cave. King Sigurd landed on this island, and went 
to the cave ; but it lay in a precipice, and there was a high 
winding path to the stone- wall, and the precipice above pro- 
jected over it. The heathens defended the stone- wall, and 
w^ere not afraid of the Northmen's arms ; for they could 
throw stones, or shoot down upon the Northmen under their 
feet : neither did the Northmen, under such circumstances, 
dare to mount up. The heathens took their clothes and 
other valuable things, carried them out upon the wall, spread 
them out before the Northmen, shouted, and defied them, 
and upbraided them as cowards. Then Sigurd fell upon this 
plan : he had two ship's boats, such as we call barks, drawn 
up the precipice right above the mouth of the cave ; and had 
thick ropes fastened round the stem, stern, and hull of each. 
In these boats as many men went as could find room, and then 
the boats were lowered by the ropes down in front of the 
mouth of the cave ; and the men in the boats shot with stones 
and missiles into the cave, and the heathens were thus driven 
from the stone-wall. Then Sigurd with his troops climbed up 
the precipice to the foot of the stone-wall, which they suc- 
ceeded in breaking down, so that they came into the cave. 
Now the heathens fled within the stone-wall that was built 
across the cave ; on which the king ordered large trees to be 
brought to the cave, made a great pile in the mouth of it, and 
set fire to the wood. When the fire and smoke got the upper 
hand, some of the heathens lost their lives in it ; some fled ; 
some fell by the hands of the Northmen; and part were killed, 
part burned; and the Northmen made the greatest booty 
they had got on all their expeditions. So says Halldor 
Skualldre : — 

" Formentara lay 
In the victor s way ; 

"* Serkland is the Saracen's land, the north of Africa ; and the inhabitants 
"bluemen, the Moors. 


His ships' stems fly- 
To victory. 
The bluemen there 
Must fire bear, 
And Norsemen's steel 
At their hearts feel." 

And also thus : — 

"'Twas a feat of renown, — 
The boat lowered down. 
With a boat's crew brave, 
In front of the cave ; 

"While up the rock scaling, * 

And comrades up trailing. 
The Norsemen gain, 
And the bluemen are slain." 

And also Thorarin Stuttfeld says : — 

'^ The king's men up the mountain's side 
Drag two boats from the ocean's tide : 

The two boats lay, 

Like hill-wolves gray. 
Now o'er the rock in ropes they 're swinging, 
Well manned, and death to bluemen bringing : 

They hang before 

The robbers' door." 

Thereafter king Sigurd proceeded on his expedition, and 
came to an island called Ivitsa (Ivica), and had there his 
seventh hattle, and gained a victory. So says Halldor 
Skualldre : — 

'' His ships at Ivica now ride. 
The king's, whose fame spreads far and wide ; 
And here the bearers of the shield 
Their arms again in battle wield." 

Thereafter king Sigurd came to an island called Minorca, 
and held there his eighth hattle with heathen men, and gained 
the victory. So says Halldor Skualldre : — 

*' On green Minorca's plains 
The eighth battle now he gains : 
Again the heathen foe 
Falls at the Norse king's blow." 

In spring king Sigurd came to Sicily, and remained a long 
time there. There was then a duke Eoger in Sicily, who 
received the king kindly, and invited him to a feast. King 
Sigurd came to it with a great retinue, and was splendidly 
entertained. Every day duke Eoger stood at the company's 
table, doing service to the king ; but the seventh day of the 

"56 . SIGUSD THE CRUSADER. [a.D. 1.109. 

feast, when the people had come to table, and had wiped their 
hands, king Sigurd took the duke by the hand, led him up to 
the high seat, and saluted him with the title of king ; and 
gave the right that there should be alwa^^s a king over the 
dominion of Sicily, although before there had only been earls 
or dukes over that country^. 

It is written in the chronicles, that earl Eoger let himself 
first be called the king of Sicily in the year of our Lord 1102, 
having before contented himself with the title of earl only 
of Sicily, although he w^as duke of Calabria and Apulia, and 
w^as called Roger the Great ; and when he afterwards made 
the king of Tunet or Tunis tributary to him, he had these 
words engraved on his sword, — 

" Apulus et Calaber, Siculus milii servit et Afer." 

King Roger of Sicily was a very great king. He won and 
subdued all Apulia, and many large islands besides in the 
Greek sea; and therefore he was called Roger the Great. 
His son was William, king of Sicily, who for a long time had 
great hostility with the emperor of Constantinople. King 
William had three daughters, but no son. One of his daugh- 
ters he married to the emperor Henry, a son of the emperor 
Frederic ; and their son was Frederic, who for a short time 
after was emperor of Rome. His second daughter was married 
to the duke of Kypurf. The third daughter, Margaret, was 
married to the chief of the corsairs ; but the emperor Henry 
killed both these brothers-in-law. The daughter of Roger the 
Great, king of Sicily, was married to the emperor Manuel of 
Constantinople; and their son was the emperor Kirialaxj. 

In summer king Sigurd sailed across the Greek sea to 
Palestine §, and came to Acre||, where he landed, and went by 
land to Jerusalem^. Now when Baldwin, Idng of Palestine, 
heard that king Sigurd would visit the city, he let valuable 
clothes be brought and spread upon the road, and the nearer 

* It appears to have been the feudal idea of the times, that a title or dig- 
nity must be conferred by a superior in title or dignity ; and thus a wandering 
king from the north could raise Roger of Sicily to the kingly title. [The 
Norseman's account is a fable : the dignity of king of Sicily was given to 
count Roger, in 1129, by the pope.] 

+ Kypur, Cyprus. 

Z Kirialax. Kuriou Alexou, the emperor Alexius Comnenus. 

§ Jorsalaland, Palestine; the land of Jerusalem. 

II Akersborg, Acre. •jl Jorsalaborg, Jerusalem. 


to the city the more valuable ; and said, " Now ye must know 
that a celebrated king from the northern part of the earth is 
come to visit us: and many are the gallant deeds and cele- 
brated actions told of him, therefore we shall receive him 
well ; and in doing so we shall also know his magnificence 
and power. If he ride straight on to the city, taking little 
notice of these splendid preparations, I will conclude that he 
has enough of such things in his own kingdom ; but, on the 
other hand, if he rides off the road, I shall not think so 
highly of his royal dignity at home." Now king Sigurd rides 
to the city with great state ; and when he saw this magnifi- 
cence, he rode straight forward over the clothes, and told all 
his men to do the same. King Baldwin received him parti- 
cularly well, and rode with him all the way to the river Jor- 
dan, and then back to the city of Jerusalem. Einar Skuleson 
speaks thus of it: — 

'^ Grood reason has the scald to sing 

The generous temper of the king, 

Whose sea-cold keel from Northern waves 

Ploughs the blue sea that green isles laves. 

At Acre scarce were we made fast. 

In holy ground our anchors cast. 

When the king made a joyful morn 

To all who toil with him had borne." 

And again he sang : — 

'' To Jerusalem he came. 
He who loves war's noble game, 
(The scald no greater monarch finds 
Beneath the heaven's wide hall of winds) 
All sin and evil from him flings 
In Jordan's wave : for all his sins 
(Which all must praise) he pardon wins." 

King Sigurd staid a long time in the land of Jerusalem in 
autumn, and in the beginning of winter. 

King Baldwin made a magnificent feast for king Sigurd 
and many of his people, and gave him many holy relics. By 
the orders of king Baldwin and the patriarch, there was taken 
a splinter off the holy cross ; and on this holy relic both made 
oath, that this wood was of the holy cross upon which God 
himself had been tortured. Then this holy relic was given 
to king Sigurd ; with the condition that he, and twelve other 
men with him, should swear to promote Christianity with all 
his power, and erect an archbishop's seat in Norway if he 
could; and also that the cross should be kept where the holy 

58 SIGURD THE CEUSADER. [a.D. 1110. 

king Olaf reposed, and that he should introduce tithes, and 
also pay them himself. After this king Sigurd returned ta 
his ships at Acre ; and then king Baldwin prepared to go to 
Syria, to a town called. Saet, which some think had been Sidon. 
This castle, which belonged to the heathens, he wished to 
conquer, and lay under the Christians. On this expedition 
king Sigurd accompanied him with all his men, and sixty 
ships ; and after the kings had besieged the town some time 
it surrendered-''^, and they took possession of it, and of a great 
treasure of money ; and their men found other booty. King 
Sigurd made a present of his share to king Baldwin. So says 
Halldor Skualldre : — 

*' He who for wolves provides the feast 
Seized on the city in the east^ 
The heathen nest ; and honour drew, 
And gold to give, from those he slew.'* 

Einar Skuleson also tells of it : — 

" The Norsemen's king, the scalds relate. 
Has ta'en the heathen town of Saet : 
The slinging engine, with dread noise. 
Gables and roofs with stones destroys. 
The town wall totters too, — it falls ; 
The Norsemen mount the blackened walls. 
He who stains red the raven's bill 
Has won, — the town lies at his will." 

Thereafter king Sigurd went to his ships, and made ready 
to leave Palestine. They sailed north to the island of Cyprus ; 
and king Sigurd staid there awhile, and then went to the 
Greek country, and came to the land with all his fleet at 
Engilsnessf. Here he lay still for a fortnight, although 
every day it blew a breeze for going before the wind to the 
north ; but Sigurd would wait a side wind, so that the sails 
might stretch fore and aft in the ship ; for in all his sails 
there was silk joined in, before and behind in the sail, and 
neither those before nor those behind the ships could see the 
slightest appearance of this, if the vessel was before the 
wind ; so they would rather wait a side wind. 

When king Sigurd sailed into Constantinople, he steered 

* Saide, or Sidon, was taken in December, 1110. 

+ Engilsness, supposed to be the ness at the river ^gos, called iEgisnes 
in the Orkneyinga Saga, within the Dardanelles ; not Cape Saint Angelo in 
the Morea. 


near the land. Over all the land there are burghs, castles, 
country towns, the one upon the other without interval. 
There from the land one could see into the bights of the 
sails; and the sails stood so close beside each other, that they 
seemed to form one inclosure. All the people turned out to 
see king Sigurd sailing past. The emperor Alexius had also 
heard of king Sigurd's expedition, and ordered the city port 
of Constantinople to be opened, which is called the Gold 
Tower, through which the emperor rides when he has been 
long absent from Constantinople, or has made a campaign in 
which he has been victorious. The emperor had precious 
cloths spread out from the Gold Tower to Loktiar, which is 
the name of the emperor's most splendid hall. King Sigurd 
ordered his men to ride in great state into the city, and not 
to regard all the new things they might see ; and this they 
did. The emperor sent singers and stringed instruments to 
meet them ; and with this great splendour king Sigurd and 
his followers were received into Constantinople. It is told 
that king Sigurd had his horse shod with golden shoes before 
he rode into the city, and managed so that one of the shoes 
came off in the street, but that none of his men should regard 
it. When king Sigurd came to the magnificent hall, every 
thing was in the grandest style ; and when king Sigurd's men 
had come to their seats, and were ready to drink, the empe- 
ror's messengers came into the hall, bearing between them 
purses of gold and silver, which they said the emperor had 
sent to king Sigurd ; but the king did not look upon it, but 
told his men to divide it among themselves. When the mes- 
sengers returned to the emperor, and told him this, he said, 
" This king must be very powerful and rich not to care for 
such things, or even give a word of thanks for them;" and 
ordered them to return with great chests filled with gold. 
They come again to king Sigurd, and say, " These gifts and 
presents are sent thee from the emperor." King Sigurd said, 
" This is a great and handsome treasure, my men ; divide it 
among you." The messengers return and tell this to the 
emperor. He replies, "This king must either exceed other 
kings in power and wealth, or he has not so much understand- 
ing as a king ought to have. Go thou now the third time, 
and carry him the costliest purple, and these chests with or- 
naments of gold:" to which he added two gold rings. Now 
the messengers went again to king Sigurd, and told him the 

60 SIGUED THE CRUSADER. [a.D. 1111. 

emperor had sent him this great treasure. Then he stood up, 
and took the rings, and put them on his hand ; and the king 
made a beautiful oration in Greek, in which he thanked the 
emperor in many fine expressions for all this honour and 
magnificence, but divided the treasure again very equitably 
among his men. King Sigurd remained here some time. 
The emperor Alexius sent his men to him to ask if he would 
rather accept from the emperor six skifpound [one ton] of 
gold, or would have the emperor give the games in his honour 
which the emperor w^as used to have played at the Padreimr-''. 
King Sigurd preferred the games, and the messengers said 
the spectacle would not cost the emperor less than the money 
offered. Then the emperor prepared for the games, which 
were held in the usual w^ay : but this day every thing went on 
better for the king than for the queen ; for the queen has 
always the half part in the games, and their men, therefore, 
ahvays strive against each other in all games. The Greeks 
accordingly think that when the king s men win more games 
at the Padreimr than the queen's, the king will gain the vic- 
tory when he goes into battle. People who have been in 
Constantinople tell that the Padreimr is thus constructed : — 
A high w^all surrounds a flat plain, which may be compared to 
a round bare Thing-place f , with earthen banks all around at 
the stone-wall, on which banks the spectators sit; but the 
games themselves are in the flat plain. There are many sorts 
of old events represented concerning the Asers, Volsungers, 
and Giukungers, in these games I ; and all the figures are 
cast in copper, or metal, with so great art that they appear 
to be living things ; and to the people it appears as if they 
were really present in the games. The games themselves 
are so artfully and carefully managed, that people appear to 
be riding in the air ; and at them also are used shot-fire §, 
and all kinds of harp-playing, singing, and music instru- 

* Padreimr, or Padrennir, the Hippodrome where the great spectacles were 

i* Place of public assembly. 

X It is not likely that the feats of the Asers, Volsungers, and Giukungers, 
were represented in the games of the Hippodrome at Constantinople; but 
very likely that the Vseringers, and other northmen there, would apply the 
names of their own mythology to the representations taken from the Greek 

§ Fire- works, or the Greek fire, were probably used. 

A.D 1111.] KING Sigurd's feast. 61 

It is related that king Sigurd one day was to give the em- 
peror a feast, and he ordered his men to provide sumptuously 
all that was necessary for the entertainment ; and when all 
things were provided which are suitable for an entertainment 
given by a great personage to persons of high dignity, king 
Sigurd ordered his men to go to the street in the city where 
fire-wood was sold, as they would require a great quantity to 
prepare the feast. They said the king need not be afraid of 
wanting fire-wood, for every day many loads were brought into 
the town. When it was necessary, however, to have fire- 
wood, it was found that it was all sold, which they told the 
king. He replied, *' Go and try if you can get walnuts. 
They will answer as well as wood for fuel." They went and 
got as many as they needed. Now came the emperor, and 
his grandees and court, and sat down to table. All was very 
splendid; and king Sigurd received the emperor with great 
state, and entertained him magnificently. When the queen 
and the emperor found that nothing was wanting, she sent 
some persons to inquire what they had used for firewood ; 
and they came to a house filled with walnuts, and they came 
back and told the queen. " Truly," said she, "this is a mag- 
nificent king, who spares no expense where his honour is con- 
cerned." She had contrived this to try what they would do 
when they could get no firewood to dress their feast with. 

King Sigurd soon after prepared for his return home. He 
gave the emperor all his ships ; and the valuable figure-heads 
which were on the king's ships were set up in Peter's church,, 
where they have since been to be seen. The emperor gave 
the king many horses and guides to conduct him through all 
his dominions, and appointed markets for him in his terri- 
tories at which he could buy food and drink. Then king 
Sigurd left Constantinople ; but many Northmen remained, 
and went into the emperor's pay. Then king Sigurd 
travelled from Bulgaria, and through Hungary, Pannonia, 
Suabia, and Bavaria. In Suabia he met the Koman emperor 
Lotharius, who received him in the most friendly way, gave 
him guides through his dominions, and had markets esta- 
blished for him at which he could purchase all he required. 
When king Sigurd came to Sleswick in Denmark, earl Eilif 
made a sumptuous feast for him ; and it was then midsummer. 
In Heidaby he met the Danish king Nicolaus, who received 
him in the most friendly way, made a great entertainment for 

63 SiaURD THE CRUSADER. [a.D. 1111. 

him, accompanied him north to Jutland, and gave him a ship 
provided with every thing needful. From thence the king 
returned to Norway, and was joyfully welcomed on his return 
to his kingdom. It w^as the common talk among the people, 
that none had ever made so honourable a journey from Nor- 
way as this of king Sigurd. He w^as twenty years of age, 
and had been three years on these travels. His brother Olaf 
was then twelve years old. 

[William of Tyre, book xi., gives the following account of the arrival of 
the Northmen in Syria : — 

" The town of Bereyth was taken in the year 1111 [1110] from the incarnation 
of our Saviour, and on the 27th of the month of April. That same year people 
from the isles of the west, and principally from the western country called 
Norway, having heard that the faithful Christians had taken possession of the 
holy city of Jerusalem, resolved to repair thither and pay their devotions ; 
and they prepared a fleet accordingly. They embarked, and being favoured 
by the winds, they traversed the British Sea, passed the strait of Calpe and 
Assos, by which the Mediterranean Sea is formed, and having coasted along 
its whole length, they landed at Joppa. The supreme chief of this expedition 
was a stout, handsome yoimg man, brother of the king of Norway. As soon 
as he had disembarked at Joppa, with all his followers, they proceeded to 
Jerusalem, the object of their wishes and vows. The king, on being informed 
of the arrival of the noble prince of Norway, made all haste to meet him, 
received him wi^h much kindness, conversed familiarly with him, and tried 
to discover if the prince would be disposed to stop some time in the kingdom 
with his naval force, and to consecrate to Christ the fruit of his labour by 
giving his aid to extend the dominion of the faithful, and by taking posses- 
sion of some other towns. The Norwegians, after holding a council among 
themselves, replied that they were come with the express intention of em- 
ploying themselves usefully in the service of Christ, and that consequently 
they were quite disposed to proceed, without the least delay, by sea, towards 
any of the maritime towns which the king was disposed to attack with his 
army, and would demand no other pay than the victuals necessary for their 
support. The king accepted these terms with the greatest ardour ; and im- 
mediately assembling all the forces of his kingdom, and all the knights he 
could collect, he began his march to Sidon. The fleet left the port of Acre, 
and proceeded also to Sidon, where the land and sea forces arrived simul- 
taneously. * * * * rpj^g people of the fleet received presents from the 
king, took leave of him, and returned to their country loaded with the 
blessings of all Christians. The town of Sidon was taken in the year of 
grace 1111 [1110], and on the 19th of December." 

This account of Sigurd the Crusader's expedition to the holy land, by a 
nearly contemporary historian, native of the country, corroborates Snorro 
Sturleson's account of it even in the minute details, but he makes him arrive 
at Joppa, instead of Acre, as the Norse account has it.] 



A.D. 1160—1173. 


This book contains the reports of Rabbi Benjamin, the son of 
Jonah, of blessed memory-'', of Tudela, in the kingdom of 
Navarre. This man travelled through many and distant 
countries, as related in the following account, and took down 
in writing in each place what he saw or what was told him by 
men of integrity, whose names were known in Spain. Rabbi 
Benjamin also mentions some of the principal men in the 
places he visited; and when he returned, he brought this 
report along with him to the country of Castile in the year 
933 (a.d. 1173). The above-mentioned Rabbi Benjamin was 
a man of wisdom and understanding, and of much information ; 
and after strict inquiry his w^ords were found to be true and 
correct, for he was a true man. 


Thus says Rabbi Benjamin, son of Jonah, of blessed memory. 
I first set out from the city of Saragossa, and proceeded down 
the river Ebro toTortosa. Two days' journey brought me to the 
ancient city of Tarragona, which contains many cyclopean and 
pelasgic remains f, and similar buildings are found nowhere 
else in the whole kingdom of Spain. This city stands on the 
coast. Two days thence is Barcelona, in which place there is 

* The expression "of blessed memory" is generally added by Jews when 
mentioning the " honoured dead," (see Proverbs x. *J,) and recurs freq^uently 
in the following narrative. 

f This city was one of great antiquity ; and at this time the remains of its 
ancient walls appear to have been very remarkable. Destroyed at an earlier 
period by the Saracens, Tarragona waa rebuilt in the twelfth century. 

64 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1160. 

a congregation of wise, learned, and princely men, such as 
E. Shesheth, K. Shealthiel, and E. Solomon, son of E. 
Abraham, son of Chisdai of blessed memory. The city is 
handsome, though small, and is situated on the sea-shore. Its 
trade attracts merchants from all parts of the world: from 
Greece, from Pisa, Genoa, and Sicily, from Alexandria in 
Egypt, from Palestine and the adjacent countries. 

A day's journey and a half brings you to Gerona, which city 
contains a small congregation of Jews. From thence it is 
three days to Narbonne, eminent for its university, from which 
the study of the law spreads over all countries. The city 
. contains many wise and noble men, especially E. Calonymos, 
son of the great and noble E. Theodores of blessed memory, 
a descendant of the house of David, as proved by his pedigree. 
This man holds landed property from the sovereigns of the 
country, and nobody can deprive him of it by force. There 
is also E. Abraham, the president of the university, E. Makhir, 
Pt. Juda, and others of much merit and learning. Alto- 
gether the number of Jews amounts to about three hundred. 
It is four parasangs thence to the city of Beziers, which con- 
tains a congregation of learned men, the principals of which 
are E. Solomon Chalaphtha and E. Joseph, son of E. Nathaniel 
of blessed memory. 

From thence it is two days to Har Gaash, orMontpellier, a 
city conveniently situated for trade, being within two parasangs 
from the coast. You here meet with Christian and Moham- 
medan merchants from all parts : from Algarve (Portugal), 
Lombardy, the Eoman empire, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, 
France, Spain, and England. People of all tongues meet 
here, chiefly in consequence of the traffic of the Genoese and 
Pisans. The Jews of this city are among the wisest and most 
esteemed of the present generation. E. Eeuben, son of 
Theodores, E. Nathan, son of Zacharias, E. Samuel, their 
rabbi, E. Shelemiah, and E. Mordecai of blessed memory, 
are the principal among them. Others are very rich, and 
benevolent towards all who apply to them for assistance. It 
is four parasangs hence to Lunel, a city containing also a holy 
congregation of Jews, who employ all their time upon the 
study of the law. This town is the place of residence of the 
celebrated rabbi E. Meshullam and his five sons (E. Joseph, 
E. Isaac, E. Jacob, E. Aaron, and E. Aslier), all of whom are 
eminent scholars and rich men. The latter is an ascetic, 


who does not attend to any worldly business, but studies day 
and night, keeps fasts, and never eats meat. He possesses 
an extraordinary degree of knowledge of every thing relating 
to Talmudic learning. K. Moses, his brother-in-law, R. 
Samuel, the minister, R. Solomon Cohen, and the physician 
R. Juda, son of Thibbon, of Spanish origin, are also in- 
habitants of Lunel. All foreign students who resort hither 
to study the law, are supplied with food and raiment at the 
public expense during the whole time of their stay in the uni- 
versity. The Jews of this city, amounting to about three 
hundred,, are wise, holy, and benevolent men, who support 
their poor brethren near and far. The town stands within 
two parasangs of the coast. It is two parasangs hence to 
Beaucaire, a large town, containing about four hundred Jews, 
and a great university under the presidency of the great rabbi, 
R. Abraham, son of David of blessed memory, a scholar of the 
first eminence in scriptural and talmudic learning. He 
attracts students from distant countries, who are lodged in his 
own house and are taught by him ; he, moreover, provides 
them with all necessaries of life from his own means and 
private property, which is very considerable. R. Joseph, son 
of R. Menachem, R. Benbenast, R. Benjamin, R. Abraham, 
and R. Isaac, son of R. Moses of blessed memory of this city, 
are also very great scholars and wise men. It is three para- 
sangs further to Nogres or Bourg de St. Gilles. The chief of 
the Jewish inhabitants, of which there are about one hundred, 
are R. Isaac, son of R. Jacob, R. Abraham, son of R. Juda, R. 
Eliasar, R. Isaac, R. Moses, and R. Jacob, son of the late 
rabbi R. Levi of blessed memory. This town is a place of 
pilgrimage 'i^, visited by the inhabitants of distant countries 
and islands. It is situated within three parasangs of the sea, 
on the very banks of the large river Rhone, which traverses 
the whole of Provence. It is the place of residence of R. 
Abba Mari, son of R. Isaac of blessed memory, who holds the 
office of steward to count Raymond. 

* The church of St. Egidius, or Giles, in this town, was a celebrated place 
of pilgrimage in the middle ages. It was the birthplace and first appanage 
of the celebrated Raymond, count of St.Giiles and Toulouse, duke of Narbonne, 
and marquis of Provence, whose family were so active in the crusades. The 
count Raymond here mentioned, in whose household R. Abba Mari held office, 
was Raymond V., son of Alphonso, who had the title of count of St. Gilles 
during his father's life. 


66 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a D. 1160. 

To Aries, tliree parasangs. The chief of its two hundred 
Israelites are R. Moses, R. Tobi, R. Isaiah, R. Solomon the 
rabbi, R. Nathan, and R. Abba Mari of blessed memory. It 
is three days hence to Marseilles, a city containing many 
eminent and wise men. Its three hundred Jews form two 
congregations, one of which resides in the lower town on the 
shore of the Mediterranean, and the other in the upper part, 
near the fortress. The latter supports a great university 
and boasts of many learned scholars. R. Simeon, son of R. 
Antoli, his brother, R. Jacob, and R. Levaro, are the chief of 
the upper synagogue, R. Jacob Perpiano, a rich man, R. Abra- 
ham, and his son-in-law, R. Meir, R. Isaac, and another Meir, 
preside over the lower congregation. An extensive trade is 
carried on in this city, which stands immediately on the coast. 
And here people take ship for Genoa, which also stands on the 
coast, and is reached in about four days. Two Jews from Ceuta, 
R. Samuel, son of Khilam, andhis brother, reside there. The city 
is surrounded by a wall ; no king governs over it, but senators 
chosen by the citizens out of their own body. Every house 
is provided with a tower, and in times of civil commotion war 
is carried on from the tops of these towers. The Genoese 
are masters of the sea, and build vessels called galleys, by 
means of which they carry on war in many places and bring 
home much plunder and booty. They are now at war with 
the Pisans. 

From their city it is a distance of two days' journey to 
Pisa, which is a place of very great extent, containing about 
ten thousand fortified houses, from which war is carried on in 
times of civil commotion. AH the inhabitants are brave; no 
king or prince governs over them, the supreme authority being 
vested in senators chosen by the people. The principal of the 
twent}^ Jews resident at Pisa are R. Moses, R. Chaim, and 
K. Joseph. The city has no walls, and stands about four 
miles from the sea, the navigation being carried on by means 
of vessels which ply upon the Arno, a river that runs through 
the city. Hence it is four parasangs to Lucca, a large city, 
which contains about forty Jews, the principal of whom are 
R. David, R. Samuel, and R. Jacob. 

A journey of six days from thence brings you to the large 
city of Rome, the metropolis of all Christendom. Two hun- 
dred Jews live there, who are very much respected, and pay 
tribute to no one. Some of them are officers in the service of 

A.D. 11 60.] ROME. Qt 

pope Alexander''", who is the chief ecclesiastic and head of 
the Christian church. The principal of the many eminent 
Jews resident here are R. Daniel and R. Jechiel. The latter 
is one of the pope's officers, a handsome, prudent, and wise 
man, who frequents the pope's palace, being the steward of his 
household and minister of his private property. R. Jechiel is 
a descendant of R. Nathan, the author of the book Aruch and 
its comments f. There are likewise at Rome, R. Joab, son of 
the rabbi R. Solomon, R. Menachem, the president of the uni- 
versity, R. Jechiel, who resides in Trastevere, and R. Ben- 
jamin, son of R. Shabthai of blessed memory. 

The city of Rome is divided into two parts by the river 
Tiber, which runs through it. In the first of these divisions 
you see the large place of w^orship called St. Peter of Rome, 
on the site of the extensive palace of Julius Caesar. The city 
contains numerous buildings and structures entirely different 
from all other buildings upon the face of the earth. The extent 
of ground covered by the ruined and inhabited parts of Rome 
amounts to four-and-twenty miles, You there find eighty 
halls of the eighty eminent kings who w^ere all called Im- 
perator, from king Tarquin to king Pepin, the father of 
Charles (Charlemagne), who first conquered Spain and wrested 
it from the Mohammedans |. In the outskirts of Rome is the 
palace of Titus, who w^as rejected by three hundred. senators 
in consequence of his having wasted three years in the con- 
quest of Jerusalem, which, according to their will, he ought to 
have accomplished in two years. There is likewise the hall 
of the palace of king Vespasianus, a very large and strong 
building; also the hall of king Galba, containing 360 windows, 
equal in number to the days of the year. The circumference 
of this palace is nearly three miles. A battle was fought here 
in times of yore, and in the palace fell more than a hundred 
thousand, whose bones are hung up there even to the present 
day. The king caused a representation of the battle to be 
drawn, army against army, the men, the horses, and all their 

* Alexander III., who held the papacy from 1159 to 1181. The employ- 
ment of Jews in the service of the pope is a circumstance worthy of remark. 

+ The book Aruch was a celebrated dictionary, completed by rabbi Nathan 
at Rome, in a.d. 1101. 

J These singular legends relating to the ancient buildings in Eome are 
chiefly taken from the writings of Josephus Ben Gorion. Some of them may 
be compared with similar tales which are found in Christian writers, and of 
which several examples are inserted in William of Malmesbury's History. 

F 2 

68 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1160. 

accoutrements being sculptured in marble, in order to preserve 
a memorial of the wars of antiquity. You there find also a 
cave under ground containing the king and his queen upon 
their thrones, surrounded by about one hundred nobles of 
their court, all embalmed by physicians and in good preser- 
vation to this day. 

Another Vemarkable object is St. Giovanni in porta Latinay 
in which place of worship there are two copper pillars con- 
structed by king Solomon of blessed memory, whose name, 
"Solomon, son of David," is engraved upon each. The Jews 
in Rome told Benjamin, that every year, about the time of the 
9th of Abt-, these pillars sweat so much that the water runs 
dow^n from them. You there see also the cave in which Titus, 
the son of Vespasian, hid the vessels of the temple, which he 
brought from Jerusalem ; and in another cave on the banks of 
the Tiber, you find the sepulchres of those holy men of blessed 
memory, the ten martyrs of the kingdom f. Opposite St. 
Giovanni de Laterano, there is a statue of Samson, with a 
lance of stone in his hand ; also that of Absalom, the son of 
David, and of king Constantine, who built Constantinople, 
which city is called after his name ; his statue is cast in copper, 
the man and horse being gilt. Rome contains many other 
remarkable buildings and works, the whole of which nobody 
-can enumerate. 

Four days from Rome is Capua, a large city, built by king 
dapys. The town is elegant, but the water is bad, and the 
country unhealthy. Among the three hundred Jews who 
reside at Capua are many very wise men of universal fame, 
such as R. Konpasso and his brother, R. Samuel, R. Saken, 
and the rabbi R. David, who bears the title of Principalo. 

From thence to Puzzuolo, or Sorrento, a large city built by 

* The time of the destruction of both temples at Jerusalem. The day is 
still one of fast and mourning to all Jews, and is celebrated as such by all 

t These were ten ancient teachers of the Mishna, who suffered violent 
death in the period between Vespasian and Hadrian. A late legend not 
only connected these persecutions as one event, but assigned to the victims a 
common sepulchre at Rome. The legend contains a conversation of the ten 
martyrs with the emperor. Several of the ten were certainly not buried in 
Rome ; the sepulchres of three, Akiba, Ishmael, and Juda Ben Thema, were 
shown in Palestine in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Antipatris is 
said by others to be the place of the sepulchre of R. Akiba. A more recent 
catalogue notices, as known in Palestine, the sepulchres of R. Juda, son 
of Baba, and Simon, son of Gramaliel, two others of the " ten martyrs." 


Tsintsan Hadareser, who fled in fear of king David of blessed 
memory. This city has been inundated in two spots by the sea ; 
and even to this day you may see the streets and towers of the 
submerged city. A hot spring, which issues forth from under 
ground, produces the oil called Petroleum, which is collected 
upon the surface of the water and used in medicine. There are 
likewise hot baths, proceeding from hot subterranean springs, 
which here issue from under ground. Two of these baths are 
situated on the sea-shore, and whoever is afflicted with any 
disease generally experiences great relief, if not certain cure, 
from the use of these waters. During the summer season all 
persons afflicted with diseases crowd hither from the whole of 
Lombardy -i'^ 

From this place a man may travel fifteen miles by a cause- 
way under the mountains, constructed by king Romulus, the 
founder of Rome, who feared David, king of Israel, and Joab, 
his general, and constructed buildings both upon and under 
the mountains. The city of Naples is very strongly fortified ; 
it is situated on the coast, and was originally built by the 
Greeks. The principal of the five hundred Jews who live here 
are R. Chiskiah, R. Shalom, R. Eliah Cohen, and R. Isaac, 
from Mount Hor. One day's journey brings you to Salerno, 
the chief medical university of Christendom. The number of 
Jews living here amounts to about six hundred, among whom 
R. Juda, son of R. Isaac, R. Melchisedek, the grand rabbi, 
originally from Siponte, R. Solomon Cohen, R. Elija Haje- 
vani (i.e. the Greek), R. Abraham Narboni, and R. Thamon, 
deserve particular notice as wise and learned men. The city 
is surrounded by a wall towards the land; one part of it how- 
ever stands on the shore of the sea. The fort on the summit 
of the hill is very strong. Half a day to Amalfi, among the 
inhabitants of which city are twenty Jews, the chief being R. 
Chananel, the physician, R. Elisha, and the benevolent (or 
noble) Abu-al-Gid. The Christian population of this country 
is chiefly occupied with trade; they do not till the ground, 
but buy every thing for money, because they reside on high 
mountains and upon rocky hills ; fmit, however, abounds ; the 
land being covered with vineyards, olive-groves, gardens, and 
orchards. Nobody ventures to make war upon them. 

* This account of Puzzuolo is also chiefly taken from Josephus Gorionides. 
Modern researches prove that some Roman villas on the sea-coast are now 
covered by the sea ; and this led to the story of the submerged city. 


One day to Bavento, a large city between the coast and a 
high mountain. The congregation of Jews is about two 
hundred, of which the principals are R. Calonymos, R. 
Sarach, and R. Abraham of blessed memory. From hence 
two days to Melfi in Apulia, the Pul-s^ of scripture, with 
about two hundred Jews, of which R. Achimaats, R. Nathan, 
and R. Sadok are the principal. One day's journey hence 
to Ascoli ; the principal of the forty Jews who live there are 
R. Kontilo, R. Semach, his son-in-law, and R. Joseph. Two 
days to Trani, on the coast. All the pilgrims who travel 
to Jerusalem assemble here, on account of the convenience 
of its port. This city contains about two hundred Israelites, 
the chief of whom are R. Elijah, R. Nathan the lecturer f, 
and R. Jacob. Trani is a large and elegant town. One 
day's journey to St. Nicholas di Bari |., formerly a large city, 
but it was destroyed by William king of Sicily. It still 
lies in ruins, and contains neither Jewish nor Christian 
inhabitants. One day's journey and a half to Taranto, the 
frontier town of Calabria, the inhabitants of wiiich are 
Greeks. It is a large city, and the principal of the three 
hundred Jews who live there are R. Mali, R. Nathan, and 
R. Israel. One day's journey to Brindisi, on the sea-coast, 
containing about ten Jews, who are dyers. Two days to 
Otranto, on the coast of the Grecian sea; the principal of 
its five hundred Jewish inhabitants are R. Menachem, R. 
Khaleb, R. Meier, and R. Mali. 

From thence you cross over in two days to the island of 
Corfu, containing but one Jew, a dyer, of the name of R. 
Joseph. Unto this place reaches the kingdom of Sicily §. 

* See Isaiah, Ixvi. 19. This, it need hardly be observed, is one of the 
erroneous identifications of Scriptural names which have so frequently arisen 
from a false importance given to their similarity of sound. 

t This title v/as given to a man conversant with the Hagada, or ancient 
manner of expounding the holy scripture. The Hebrew appellation is 
" darschan." 

X Bari, which was taken and almost destroyedby the Greeks during the reign 
of William of Sicily, was called St. Nicholas, in honour of the celebrated church 
and priory of that saint, which are its most remarkable ornaments. They 
Avere built in 1098, and richly endowed by Roger, duke of Apulia ; and they 
escaped the great and general destruction with which the city was visited. 

§ This island, though for some time subject to Roger and William, kings 
of Sicily, was reconquered by the emperor Manuel in 1149; and the words 
of our author are probably intended to express that this v/as the first spot at 
which he touched after leaving the kingdom of Sicily. 


Two days' voyage by sea brings you to the coast of Arta, tbe 
confines of the empire of Manuel, king of Greece. On this 
coast lies a village -with about a hundred Jewish inhabitants, 
the principal of whom are K. Shelachiah, and R. Hercules. 
Two days to Achelous, containing ten Jews, of whom the 
principal is R. Shah thai. Half a day to Anatolica on the 
gulf. One day by sea to Patras. This is the city of Anti- 
patros, king of Greece, one of the four kings who rose after 
king Alexander ''\ It contains large and ancient build- 
ings, and about fifty Jews reside there, of wdiom R. Isaac, 
R. Jacob, and R. Samuel are the principal. Half a day by 
sea to Lepanto, on the coast. The principal of the hundred 
Jews who reside there are R. Gisri, R. Shalom, and R. Abra- 
ham. One day's journey and a half to Crissa. Tw^o hun- 
dred Jews live there by themselves on mount Parnassus, and 
carry on agriculture upon their own land and property ; of 
these, R. Solomon, R. Chaim, and R. Jedaiah are the prin- 
cipal. Three days to the city of Corinth, which contains 
about three hundred Jews, of whom the chief are R. Leon, 
R. Jacob, and R. Ezekias. 

Three days to the large city of Thebes, containing about 
two thousand Jewish inhabitants. These are the most emi- 
nent manufacturers of silk and purple cloth in all Greece f. 
Among them are many eminent Talmudic scholars and men 
as famous as any of the present generation. The principal 
of them are, the great rabbi R. Aaron Koti, his brother, R. 
Moses, R. Chija, R. Elijah Tareteno, and R. Joktan. No 
scholars like them are to be found in the whole Grecian 
■empire, except at Constantinople. A journey of three days 
brings you to Negropont, a large city on the coast, to which 
merchants resort from all parts. Of the two hundred Jews 

* This erroneous account of the foundation of Patras is taken from Josephus 

'Y Thebes contained, at this time, the greatest numher of Jews of any city 
in Greece, some of whom are stated to have been eminent manufacturers^, prin- 
'cipally of silk and purple cloths. Gfibbon states that artists employed upon 
these trades enjoyed exemption from personal taxes, " These arts, which 
were exercised at Corinth, Thebes, and Argos, afforded food and occupation 
to a numerous people : the men, women, and children were distributed 
according to their age and strength ; and if many of these were domestic 
slaves, their masters, who directed the work and enjoyed the profits, were of 
a free and honourable condition." At present the whole population of Thebes 
does not amount to above 3500 individuals. 

72 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1161. 

\\ho reside there, the principal are R. Elijah Psalteri, R. Ema- 
nuel, and R. Khaleb. From thence to Jabustrisa -!' is one 
day's journey. This city stands on the coast, and contains 
about one hundred Jews, the principal of whom are R. 
Joseph, R. Samuel, and R. Nethaniah. Rabenicaf is dis- 
tant one day's journey, and contains about one hundred Jews, 
of whom R. Joseph, R. Eleasar, and R. Isaac are the prin- 
cipal. Sinon Potamo, or Zeitun, is one day's journey fur- 
ther ; R. Solomon and R. Jacob are the principal of its fifty 
Jewish inhabitants. 

Here we reach the confines of Wallachia, the inhabitants 
of which country are called Vlachi. They are as nimble 
as deer, and descend from their mountains into the plains of 
Greece, committing robberies and making booty. Nobody 
ventures to make war upon them, nor can any king bring 
them to submission, and they do not profess the Christian 
faith. Their names are of Jewish origin, and some even say 
that they have been Jews, which nation they call brethren. 
Whenever they meet an Israelite, they rob, but never kill 
him, as they do the Greeks. They profess no religious 

From thence it is two days to Gardiki J, a ruined place, 
containing but few Jewish or Grecian inhabitants. Two days 
further, on the coast, stands the large commercial city of Ar 
miro§, which is frequented by the Venetians, the Pisans, the 
Genoese, and many other merchants. It is a large city, and 
contains about four hundred Jewish inhabitants ; of whom 
the chief are R. Shiloh, R. Joseph the elder, and R. Solo- 
mon, the president. One day to Bissina||; the principal of 

* No place of this name is now known, Mr. A slier conjectures, from the 
Sclavonic sound of the word, that it was a town of the Wallachians, and that 
it has been destroyed in the perpetual wars of which this part of Greece was 
the scene. 

f Rabenica is mentioned by several medieval writers, though its exact 
situation is not now known. Henri de Valencicnne, Chronique, edited by 
Buchon, p. 259, says '' Ensi comme jou devant vous dys, fut li parlemens ou val 
de Ravenique." 

% Gardiki, or Cardiki, a small town on the coast of the gulf of Yolo, and 
the seat of a bishop. The time at which it was ruined, or the occasion upon 
which its destruction took place, cannot be ascertained. 

§ Armyro, also on the coast of the gulf of Volo. By the writers of the 
middle ages it was called Amire, Amiro, and Almyro. Poucqueville (iii. 72) 
mentions it as the principal town of a district which bears its name. 

Jl This place is not now known, but it is mentioned by medieval writers 


the hundred Jews who reside here are the rabbi R. Shab- 
tha, R. Solomon, and R. Jacob. The town of Salunki * is 
distant two days by sea ; it was built by king Seleucus, one 
of the four Greek nobles who rose after Alexander, is a very 
large city, and contains about five hundred Jewish inha- 
bitants. The rabbi R. Samuel and his sons are eminent 
scholars, and he is appointed provost of the resident Jews by 
the king's command. His son-in-law R. Shabthai, R. Elijah, 
and R. Michael, also reside there. The Jews are much 
oppressed in this place, and live by the exercise of handi- 
craft. Mitrizzi f, distant two days' journey, contains about 
twenty Jews. R. Isaiah, R. Makhir, and R. Eliab are the 
principal of them. Drama]:, distance from hence two days' 
journey, contains about one hundred and forty Jews, of whom 
the chief are R. Michael and R. Joseph. From thence one 
day's journey to Christopoli §, which contains about twenty 
Jewish inhabitants. Three days from thence by sea stands 
Abydos, on the coast. 

It is hence five days' journey through the mountains to the 

under the name of Vissena, Vessena, and Bezena. As our author embarked 
at or near this station, it cannot have been Velestino, which we meet with by 
following his route on a map of Greece, because, although in the vicinity of 
ArmjTo, and on the road to Saloniki, it is an inland town. 

* The ancient Thessalonica, the modern Saloniki, contained, at our author's 
time, more Jewish inhabitants than any town in Grreece, Thebes alone ex- 
cepted. It is stated by good authorities to contain at present 20,000 
Israelites, a large proportion of the whole population, amounting altogether to 
but 70,000 souls. Some popular tradition probably induced our author to 
ascribe the origin of the city to Seleucus. The favourable situation of 
Saloniki, which has made it one of the most commercial towns of the 
Turkish empire, was probably tae cause of its considerable Jewish population. 

f This place, which has vanished from the modern maps of Grreece, was called 
correctly Dimitritzi, and was situated near Amphipolis, on the Cercinian Sea. 

t. Villehardouin mentions this place as belonging to the king of Thessa- 
lonica, and calls it "Dramine el val de Phelippe." Another MS. reads 
Draimes, which is more in conformity with the appellation given to it by 
Nicephorus Gregoras, who, like our author, frequently calls it Drama. It 
stands in a valley, near the site of the ancient city of Philippi, the ruins of 
which are still to be seen. 

§ The original word is ♦SlHU^^Jp ; but there can hardly be any doubt that 
our author wrote it so only because he did not like to mention the name 
of Christ. We observe this in several other instances in the course of this 
work. Christopoli was on the direct road from Thessalonica to Constantinople. 
It was situated on the frontiers of Macedonia and Thracia, on the European 
shore of the Propontis, opposite the island of Thaso ; and here travellers from 
Macedonia to Constantinople generally embarked. 


large city of Constantinople, the metropolis of the whole 
Grecian empire, and the residence of the emperor, king 
Manuel *. Twelve princely officers govern the whole empire 
by his command, each of them inhabiting a palace at Con- 
stantinople, and possessing fortresses and cities of his o^vn. 
The first of these nobles bears the title of Prsepositus mag- 
nus ; the second is called Megas Domesticus, the third Domi- 
nus, the fourth Megas Ducas, the fifth OEconomus magnus, and 
the names of the others are similar to these f. 

The circumference of the city of Constantinople is eighteen 
miles ; one half of the city being bounded by the continent, 
the other by the sea, two arms of which meet here ; the one 
a branch or outlet of the Russian, the other of the Spanish 
sea. Great stir and bustle prevails at Constantinople in 
consequence of the conflux of many merchants, who resort 
thither, both by land and by sea, from all parts of the world 
for purposes of trade, including merchants, from Babylon and 
from Mesopotamia, from Media and Persia, from Egypt and 
Palestine, as well as from Eussia, Hungary, Patzinalda, 
Budia, Lombardy, and Spain. In this respect the city is 
equalled only by Bagdad, the metropolis of the Mohammedans. 
At Constantinople is the place of worship called St. Sophia, 
and the metropoHtan seat of the pope of the Greeks, who 
are at variance with the pope of Rome. It contains as 
many altars as there are days of the year, and possesses 
innumerable riches, which are augmented every year by the 
contributions of the two islands and of the adjacent towns 
and villages. All the other places of worship in the whole 
world do not equal St. Sophia in riches. It is ornamented 
with pillars of gold and silver, and with innumerable lamps 
of the same precious materials. The Hippodrome is a public 
place near the wall of the palace, set aside for the king's 
sports. Every year the birthday of Jesus the Nazarene is 
celebrated there with public rejoicings. On these occasions 
you may see there representations of all the nations who 

* Manuel Comnenus, emperor from 1143 to 1180. 

f The best account of the imperial officers of state will be found in Gibbon, 
''Decline and Fall," chap. liii. The Praepositus magnus was one of the prin- 
cipal officers, governor of the city and of the forces stationed in it ; the Megas 
Domesticus was the commander in chief of the army ; the Dominus, court 
marshal, lord steward of the household ; Megas Ducas, the commander of the 
naval forces, or lord high admiral of the empire; (Economos magnus, a 
clerical officer of high rank. 


inhabit the different parts of the world, with surprising feats 
of jugglery. Lions, bears, leopards, and wild asses, as well 
as birds, which have been trained to fight each other, are 
also exhibited. All this sport, the equal of which is nowhere 
to be met with, is carried on in the presence of the king and 
the queen '^-. 

King Manuel has built a large palace for his residence on 
the sea-shore, near the palace built by his predecessors ; and 
to this edifice is given the name of Blachernes. The pillars 
and walls are covered with pure gold, and all the wars of 
the ancients, as well as his own wars, are represented in pic- 
tures. The throne in this palace is of gold, and ornamented 
with precious stones ; a golden crown hangs over it, sus- 
pended on a chain of the same material, the length of which 
exactly admits the emperor to sit under it. This crown is 
ornamented with precious stones of inestimable value. Such 
is the lustre of these diamonds, that, even without any other 
light, they illumine the room in which they are kept. Other 
objects of curiosity are met with here which it would be 
impossible to describe adequately. 

The tribute, which is brought to Constantinople every 
year from all parts of Greece, consisting of silks, and purple 
cloths, and gold, fills many towers. These riches and build- 
ings are equalled nowhere in the world. They say that the 
tribute of the city alone amounts every day to twenty thou- 
sand florins, arising from rents of hostelries and bazaars, and 
from the duties paid by merchants who arrive by sea and by 
land. The Greeks who inhabit the country are extremely 
rich, and possess great wealth in gold and precious stones. 
They dress in garments of silk, ornamented with gold and 
other valuable materials. They ride upon horses, and in 
their appearance they are like princes. The country is rich, 
producing all sorts of delicacies, as well as abundance of 

* The Hippodrome is now known by the Turkish paraphrased name of 
the At-Meidan, i. e. the horse-market. It was the site chosen for the display 
of the games by which the emperor Manuel entertained the sultan Azeddin 
Kilidscharslan, on his visit to Constantinople in 1159 ; and Mr. Asher ob- 
serves that Benjamin was probably an eyewitness of the public rejoicings 
and games which took place in honour of the celebration of the marriage 
of the emperor Manuel with Maria, daughter of the prince of Antiochia, on 
"the birth-day of Jesus/' a.d. 1161, which he seems to describe here. Com- 
pare the account of the games at Constantinople exhibited to the Northmen, 
pp. 60, 61. 

76 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1162. 

bread, meat, and wine. They are well skilled in the Greek 
sciences, and live comfortably, " every man under his vine 
and his fig tree."-'^ The Greeks hire soldiers of all nations, 
whom they call barbarians, for the purpose of carrying on 
their wars with the sultan of the Thogarmim, who are called 
Turks. They have no martial spirit themselves, and, like 
women, are unfit for w^arlike enterprises. 

No Jews dwell in the city with them; they are obliged to 
reside beyond the one arm of the sea, where they are shut 
in by the channel of Sophia on one side, and they can reach 
the city by water only, when they want to visit it for pur- 
poses of trade. The number of Jews at Constantinople 
amounts to two thousand Rabbanites and five hundred Cara- 
ites f, who live on one spot, but divided by a wall. The 
principal of the Rabbanites, who are learned in the law, are 
the rabbi R. Abtalion, R. Obadiah, R. Aaron Khuspo, R. 
Joseph Sargeno, and R. Eliakim the elder. Many of them 
are manufacturers of silk cloth, many others are merchants, 
some being extremely rich ; but no Jew is allowed to ride 
upon a horse, except R. Solomon Hamitsri, who is the king's 
physician, and by whose influence the Jews enjoy many ad- 
vantages even in their state of oppression, which is very 
severely felt by them ; and the hatred against them is in- 
creased by the practice of the tanners, who pour out their 
filthy water in the streets and even before the very doors of 
the Jews, who, being thus defiled, become objects of contempt 
to the Greeks. Their yoke is severely felt by the Jews, 
both good and bad ; for they are exposed to be beaten in the 
streets, and must submit to all sorts of bad treatment. Still 
the Jews are rich, good, benevolent, and religious men, who 
bear the misfortunes of their exile with humility. The 
quarter inhabited by the Jews is called Pera. 

Two days from Constantinople stands Rodosto, containing a 
congregation of about four hundred Jews, the principal of 
whom are R. Moses, R. Abijah, and R. Jacob. From hence 
it is two days to Gallipoli. Of the two hundred Jews of this 
city the principal are R. Elijah Kapid, R. Shabthai the little, 
and R. Isaac Megas; this latter term in the Greek language 

* Micah, iv. 4. 

f The former respect and conform with the authority of the rabbinic ex- 
planations, which are rejected by the latter. 

A.D. 1163.] THE GREEK ISTANDS. 77 

means tall. To (Kales, or) Kilia-, two days. The principal 
of the fifty Jews who inhabit this place are E. Juda, R. 
Jacob, and R. Shemaiah. It is hence two days to Mitilene, 
one of the islands of the sea. Ten places in this island con- 
tain Jewish congregations. Three days from thence is situated 
the island of Ohio, containing about four hundred Jews, the 
principal of whom are R. Elijah, R. Theman, and R. Shabthai. 
The trees which yield mastic are found here f. Two days 
bring us to the island of Samos, which contains about three 
hundred Jews, the chief of whom are R. Shemaria, R. Obadiah, 
and R. Joel. These islands contain many congregations of 
Jews. It is three days hence by sea to Rhodes. The prin- 
cipal of the four hundred Jews who reside here are R. Aba, 
R. Chananel, and R. Elijah. Hence it is four days to Cyprus. 
Besides the rabbanitic Jews in this island, there is a com- 
munity of heretic Jews called Kaphrosein, or Cyprians. They 
are epicureans, and the orthodox Jews excommunicate them. 
These sectarians profane the evening of the Sabbath and keep 
holy that of the Sunday. We next come in two days to 
Corycus, the frontier of Aram, which is called Armenia. 
Here are the confines of the empire of Toros, king of the 
mountains J, sovereign of Armenia, whose rule extends to the 
city of Dhuchia and the country of the Togarmim, or Turks. 
Two days further is Malmistras §, which is Thersoos, situated 

* This is the Coela of Ptolemy, and the Celiis of Pliny and Mela, a sea- 
port-town on the eastern coast of the peninsula of Grallipoli, still bearing the 
Turkish name of Kilia. 

f The island of Ohio is still celebrated for its mastic ; and the population 
of twenty villages are employed exclusively in cultivating the tree and 
gathering its produce. These villages are situated in the mountainous parts ; 
and the Christian cultivators of the mastic not only paid no tithe nor tribute, 
but enjoyed certain privileges. 

J This prince first resided with the emperor Johannes Porphyrogenitus, 
with whom he was a great favourite ; but on his death, and the succession 
of Manuel Comnenus to the throne, Thoros left Constantinople, disguised as 
a merchant, and proceeded by water to Antioch, from whence he went to 
Cilicia, and with the assistance of the priests and nobles found himself at the 
head of a formidable army, and soon established himself on the throne of his 
ancestors. When these news reached Constantinople, Manuel became highly 
incensed ; and, raising a numerous force, he sent Andronicus Csesar into Cilicia 
with the command to extirpate all Armenians ; but the imperial general was 
defeated, and Thoros was subsequently reconciled with the emperor. He 
died in 1167. 

§ Malmistras is the ancient Mopsuestia, on the Pyramus, at present 
Messis on the Jeihan, Under the former name it appears in William of Tyre 
and his contemporaries. 


on the coast. Thus far reaches the empire of the Javanites, 
who are called Greeks. 

The large city of Antioch is distant two days hence. It 
stands on the hanks of the Maklouh, which river flows down 
from Mount Lehanon, from the country of Hamah. The city 
was founded by king Antiochus, and is overlooked by a very 
high mountain. A wall surrounds this height, on the summit 
of which is situated a well. The inspector of the well distri- 
butes the water by subterranean aqueducts, and thus provides 
the houses of the principal inhabitants of the city. The other 
side of the city is surrounded by the river. This place is very 
strongly fortified, and in the possession of prince Boemond 
Poitevin, surnamed le Baube-^. It contains about ten Jews, 
who are glass manufacturers, and the principal of whom are 
B. Mordecai, R. Chaiim, and R. Ishmael. 

Two days bring us from thence to Lega, which is Latachia, 
and contains about two hundred Jews, the principal of whom 
are R. Chiia and R. Joseph. Hence it is two days to Jebilee, 
the Baal Gad of Scripture, under Mount Lebanon. 

In this vicinity reside the people called Assassins, who do 
not believe in the tenets of Mohammedanism, but in those of 
one whom they consider like unto the prophet Kharmathf. 
They fulfil whatever he commands them, whether it be a 
matter of life or death. He goes by the name of Sheikh-al- 
Hashishin, or their old man, by whose commands all the acts 
of these mountaineers are regulated. His residence is in the 
city of Kadmus |, the Kedemoth of Scripture, in the land of 
Sichon. The Assassins are faithful to one another by the 
command of their old man, and make themselves the dread of 
every one, because their devotion leads them gladly to risk 
their lives, and to kill even kings when commanded. The 
extent of their country is eight days' journey. They are at 
war with the Christians, called Franks, and with the count of 

"^ Boemond III., prince of Antioch^ surnamed le Baube (or the Stammerer), 
succeeded his. mother in the principality of Antioch in 1163, and died in 

f Kharmath was a famous impostor, founder of a sect called Carmathians, 
very similar to that of the Assassins. One of the tenets of this sect was, 
that the soul of the founder transmigrates into the body of his successor, and 
tha,t the person who held the office of chief among them was the personification 
of the original founder of the sect. 

X Kadmus is enumerated by Burckhardt in a list of old castles, on the 
mountains of Szaffyta, in the territory of the Anzeiry. 


Tripoli, which is Tarablous el Sham. Some time ago Tripoli 
was visited by an earthquake, which destroyed many Jews and 
Gentiles, numbers of the inhabitants being killed by the fall- 
ing houses and walls, under the ruins of which they were 
buried. More than twenty thousand persons were killed in 
Palestine by this earthquake. 

One day's journey to the other Jebail, which was the Gebal 
of the children of Amnion - ; it contains about one hundred 
and fifty Jews, and is governed by seven G enoese, the supreme 
command being vested in one of them named Julianus Em- 
briaco f . You there find the ancient place of worship of the 
children of Ammon. The idol of this people is seated on a 
cathedral or throne, constructed of stone and richly gilt ; two 
female figures occupy the seats on his side, one being on the 
right, the other on the left, and before it stands an altar, upon 
which the children of Ammon anciently offered sacrifices and 
burned incense. The city contains about two hundred Jews, 
the principal of whom are R. Meir, R. Jacob, and R. Szimchah. 
It stands on the coast of the sea of the Holy Land. Two days 
hence is Beyrut, which is Beeroth];. The principal of its 
fifty Jewish inhabitants are R. Solomon, R. Obadiah, and R. 
Joseph. It is hence one day's journey to Saida, which is 
Sidon of Scripture, a large city, with about twenty Jewish 

"Within twenty miles of this place reside a people who are 
at war with the inhabitants of Sidon, and who are called 

* Joskua^ xiii. 5. 1 Kings, v. 32. 

=f This passage was entirely misunderstood by the earlier translators. 
The family of the Embriaci was one of the most ancient of the patricians 
of Grenoa ; and one of its members, Gruillelmus Embriacus, was named com- 
mander of the fleet which was sent to aid the Christian princes of Syria, and 
which, in 1109, took Byblus, of which he became the feudal lord. The 
jealousy of the other patrician families was subsequently roused, but the 
family of the Embriaci succeeded in retaining their feudal tenure. The supreme 
government of the city, however, at this time, appears to have been vested in 
a committee of seven persons, six of whom were delegated by the republic, 
the place of president being always filled by one of the Embriaci. William 
of Tyre (xi. 9) relates the conquest of Byblus by the Grenoese, and informs 
us that the Christian name of the Embriacus who governed when he wrote 
(about 1180) was Hugo, ^^a grandson of the Hugo who conquered it;" but 
all other historians call the conqueror Guillelmus, and Mr. Asher thinks that 
we ought to read, in Benjamin's text, 1?D*»Si;i, which stands for William^ 
instead of Julianus. 

i Joshua, xviii. 25. 

80 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1163. 

Druses. They are called heathens and unhelievers, because 
they confess no religion. Their dwellings are on the summits 
of the mountains and in the ridges of the rocks, and they are 
subject to no king or prince. Mount Hermon, a distance of 
three days' journey, is the boundary of their territory. This 
people live incestuously ; a father cohabits with his own 
daughter, and once every year all men and women assemble to 
celebrate a festival, upon which occasion, after eating and 
drinking, they hold promiscuous intercourse. They say that the 
soul of a virtuous man is transferred to the body of a new-born 
child ; whereas that of the wicked transmigrates into a dog or 
some other animal. This their way is their folly. Jews have 
no permanent residence among them, although some trades- 
men and a few dyers travel through the country occasionally, 
to carry on their trades or sell goods, and return home when 
their business is done. The Druses are friendly towards the 
Jews; they are so nimble in climbing hills and mountains, 
that nobody can successfully carry on w^ar against them. 

One day s journey to New Sur, a very beautiful city, the 
port of which is in the town itself, and is gniarded by two 
towers, within which the vessels ride at anchor. The officers 
of the customs draw an iron chain from tower to tower every 
night, thus effectually preventing any thieves or robbers from 
escape by boats or by other means. There is no port in the 
world equal to this. About four hundred Jews reside here, 
the principal of whom are the judge R. Ephraim Mitsri, R. 
Meier of Carcasson, and R. Abraham, the elder of the com- 
munity. The Jews of Sur are ship-owners and manufacturers 
of the celebrated Tyrian glass -i' ; the purple dye is also found 
in this vicinity. If you mount the walls of New Sur, you 
may see the remains of " Tyre the crowning,"! which was 
inundated by the sea; it is about the distance of a stone s throw 
from the new town, and whoever embarks may observe the 
towers, the markets, the streets, and the halls at the bottom 
of the sea. The city of New Sur is very commercial, and one 
to which traders resort from all parts. 

It is one day hence to Acre, the Acco of Scripture, on the 
confines of the tribe of Asher. It is the frontier town of 
Palestine ; and, in consequence of its situation on the shore of 

* It is well known from other sources that Tyre was celebrated in the 
middle a^es for the manufacture of glass. 
•j- Isaiah, xxiii. 8. 

A. D. 11 63.] FKOM ACRE TO NABLOUS. 81 

the Mediterranean and of its large port, it is the principal 
place of disembarkation of all pilgrims who visit Jerusalem by 
sea. A river called Kishon^' runs near the city. There are 
here about two hundred Jewish inhabitants, of whom K. 
Zadok, R. Jepheth, and E. Jona are the principal. Three 
parasangs further is Kaiffa, which is Gath Hachepherf. One 
side of this city is situated on the coast, on the other it is 
overlooked by Mount Carmel. Under the mountain are many 
Jewish sepulchres, and near the summit is the cavern of 
Elija, upon whom be peace. Two Christians have built a 
place of worship near this site, which they call St. Elias. On 
the summit of the hill you may still trace the site of the altar 
which was rebuilt by Elija of blessed memory, in the time of 
king Ahabj, and the circumference of which is about four 
yards. The river Mukattua runs down the mountain and 
along its base. It is four parasangs hence to Khephar Than- 
chum, which is Capernaum, identical with Meon, the place of 
abode of Nabal the Carmelite. Six parasangs brings us to 
Cesarea, the Gath of the Philistines of Scripture, inhabited by 
about ten Jews and two hundred Cutheans. The latter are 
Samaritan Jews, commonly called Samaritans. This city is 
very elegant and beautiful, situated on the sea-shore, and was 
built by king Herod, who called it Cesarea in honour of the 
emperor, or Coesar. To Kakun, the Keilah of Scripture §, 
half a day's journey; in this place are no Jews. To St. 
George, the ancient Luz||, half a day's journey. One Jew 
only, a dyer, lives here. To Sebaste, one day's journey. This 
is the ancient Shomron, where you may still trace the site of 
the palace of Ahab, king of Israel. It was formerly a very 
strong city, and is situated on a mount, in a fine country, 
richly watered, and surrounded with gardens, orchards, vine- 
yards, and olive-groves. No Jews live here. 

It is two parasangs further to Nablous, the ancient Sichera, 
on Mount Ephraim. This place contains no Jewish inha- 
bitants, and is situated in the valley between Mount Gerizim 
and Mount Ebal. It is the abode of about one hundred 
Cutheans, who observe the Mosaic law only, and are called 
Samaritans. They have priests, descendants of Aaron the 

* The modern Nahr-el-Mukattua. See Judges, v. 21. 
+ Joshua^ xix. 13. Modern writers identify KaifFa with the ancient 
Ephah, and not with Gfath. 

i 1 Kings, xviii. 30. § Joshua, xv. 44. H Judges, i. 26. 


82 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1163. 

priest of blessed memory, whom they call Aaronim. These 
do not intermarry with any other but priestly families ; but 
they are priests only of their own law, who offer sacrifices and 
burnt-offerings in their synagogue on Mount Gerizim. They 
do this in accordance with the words of Scripture ^^, "Thou 
shalt put the blessing on Mount Gerizim," and they pretend 
that this is the holy temple f. On passover and holidays they 
offer burnt-offerings on the altar which they have erected on 
Mount Gerizim, from the stones put up by the children of 
Israel after they had crossed the Jordan. They pretend to be 
of the tribe of Ephraim, and are in possession of the tomb of 
Joseph the righteous, the son of our father Jacob, upon whom 
be peace, as is proved by the follovving passage of Scripture |, 
" The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought 
up with them from Egypt, they buried in Sichem." The 
Samaritans do not possess the three letters He, Cheth, and 
Ain ; the He of the name of our father Abraham, and they 
have no glory; the Cheth of the name of our father Isaac, 
in consequence of which they are devoid of piety ; the Ain of 
the name of Jacob, for they want humiUty. Instead of these 
letters, they always put an Aleph, by which you may know 
that they are not of Jewish origin, because, in their knowledge 
of the law of Moses, they are deficient in three letters §. This 
sect carefully avoid being defiled by touching corpses, bones, 
those killed by accident, or graves ; and they change their 
daily garments whenever they visit their synagogue, upon 
wliich occasion they wash their body and put on other clothes. 
These are their daily habits. 

Mount Gerizim is rich in wells and orchards, whereas 
Mount Ebal is dry like stone and rock. The city of Nablous 
lies in the valley between these two hills. Eour parasangs 
from thence is situated Mount Gilboa, which Christians call 
Monto Jelbon. The country in this part is very barren. Five 
parasangs further is the valley of Ajalon|l, called by the 
Christians Yal de Luna. One parasang to Gran David, for 

* Deut. xi. 29. 

f To which place, according to the tenets of the Talmudic Jews, the 
offerings are confined, and since the destruction of which they have been 

X Joshua, xxiv. 32. 

§ Modern critics and travellers appear to confirm this statement relating 
to the peculiar pronunciation of the three letters by the Samaritans. 

11 At present Yalo. 

A.D. 1163.] JERUSALEM. ' 83 

merly the large city of Gibeon. It contains no Jewish 

From thence it is three parasangs to Jerusalem, a small city 
strongly fortified with three walls. It contains a numerous popu- 
lation, composed of Jacobites, Armenians, Greeks, Georgians, 
Franks, and indeed of people of all tongues. The dyeing-house 
is rented by the year, and the exclusive privilege of dyeing is 
purchased from the king by the Jews of Jerusalem, two 
hundred of whom dwell in one corner of the city, under the 
tower of David. About ten yards of the base of this building 
are very ancient, having been constructed by our ancestors ; 
the remaining part was added by the Mohammedans. The city 
contains no building stronger than the tower of David. There 
are at Jerusalem two hospitals, which support four hundred 
knights, and afford shelter to the sick; these are provided 
wdth everything they may want, both during life and in death; 
the second is called the hospital of Solomon, being the palace 
originally built by king Solomon. This hospital also harbours 
and furnishes four hundred knights -i'^, who are ever ready to 
wage war, over and above those knights who arrive from the 
country of the Franks and other parts of Christendom. These 
generally have taken a vow upon themselves to stay a year or 
two, and they remain until the period of their vow is expired. 
The large place of worship, called Sepulchre, and containing 
the sepulchre of that man f , is visited by all pilgrims. 

Jerusalem has four gates, called the gates of Abraham, 
David, Sion, and Jehoshaphat. The latter stands opposite the 
place of the holy temple, which is occupied at present by a 
building called Templo Domino. Omar Ben Al-Khataab 
erected a large and handsome cupola over it, and nobody is 
allowed to introduce any image or painting into this place, it 
being set aside for prayers only. In front of it you see the 
western wall, one of the walls which formed the Holy of Holies 
of the ancient temple ; it is called the Gate of Mercy, and all 
Jews resort thither to say their prayers near the wall of the 
court-yard. At Jerusalem you also see the stables erected by 
Solomon I, and which formed part of his house. Immense 
stones have been employed in this fabric, the like of which are 
nowhere else to be met with. You further see to this day 

* The knights templars. t Jesus is thus called in the Talmud. 

t 1 Kings, iv. 26. 

G 2 

84 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1163 

vestiges of the canal near which the sacrifices were slaughtered 
in ancient times; and all Jews inscribe their name upon an 
adjacent wall. If you leave the city by the gate of Jehosha- 
phat, you may see the pillar erected on Absalom's place '-5^, 
and the sepulchre of king Uzziah f, and the great spring of 
Shiloah, which runs into the brook Kedron. Over this spring 
is a large building erected in the times of our forefathers. 
Very little water is found at Jerusalem; the inhabitants 
generally drink rain water, w^hich they collect in their houses. 

From the Valley of Jehoshaphat the traveller immediately 
ascends the Mount of Olives, as this valley only intervenes 
between the city and the mount From hence the Dead Sea 
is distinctly visible. Two parasangs from the sea stands the salt 
pillar into which Lot's wife was metamorphosed ; and although 
the sheep continually lick it, the pillar grows again, and 
retains its original state. You also have a prospect over the 
whole valley of the Dead Sea, and of the brook of Shittim, even 
as far as Mount Nebo. Mount Sion is also near Jerusalem, 
upon the acclivity of which stands no building except a place of 
worship of the Nazarenes (Christians). The traveller further 
sees there three Jewish cemeteries, where formerly the dead 
were buried ; some of the sepulchres had stones with inscrip- 
tions upon them, but the Christians destroy these monuments^ 
and use the stones in building their houses. 

Jerusalem is surrounded by high mountains. On Mount 
Sion are the sepulchres of the house of David, and those of 
the kings who reigned after him. In consequence of the 
following circumstance, however, this place is at present hardly 
to he recognised. Fifteen years ago, one of the Avails of the 
place of worship on Mount Sion fell down, and the patriarch 
commanded the priest to repair it. He ordered stones to be 
taken from the original wall of Sion for that purpose, and 
twenty w^orkmen were hired at stated wages, who broke stones 
from the very foundation of the walls of Sion. Two of these 
labourers, who were intimate friends, upon a certain day 
treated one another, and repaired to their work after their 
friendly meal. The overseer accused them of dilatoriness, but 
they answered that they would still perform their day's work, 
and would employ thereupon the time while their fellow 
labourers were at meals. They then continued to break out 

* 2 Sara, xviii. 18. +2 Kings, xv. 1—7. 


stones, until, happening to meet with one which formed the 
mouth of a cavern, they agreed to enter it in search of 
treasure, and they proceeded until they reached a large 
hall, supported by pillars of marble, encrusted with gold and 
silver, and before which stood a table, with a golden sceptre 
and crown. This was the sepulchre of David, king of Israel, 
to the left of which they saw that of Solomon in a similar 
state, and so on the sepulchres of all the kings of Juda, who were 
buried there. They further saw chests locked up, the con- 
tents of which nobody knew, and were on the point of entering 
the hall, when a blast of wind like a storm issued forth from 
the mouth of the cavern so strong that it threw them down 
almost lifeless on the ground. There they lay until evening, 
when another wind rushed forth, from which they heard a 
voice like that of a man calling alcud, '' Get up, and go forth 
from this place." The men rushed out full of fear, and pro- 
ceeded to the patriarch to report what had happened to them. 
This ecclesiastic summoned into his presence R. Abraham el 
Constantini, a pious ascetic, one of the mourners of the down- 
fall of JerLisalem'i'% and caused the two labourers to repeat what 
they had previously reported. R. Abraham thereupon informed 
the patriarch that they had discovered the sepulchres of the 
house of David and of the kings of Juda. The following 
morning the labourers were sent for again, but they were 
found stretched on their beds and still full of fear; they 
declared that they would not attempt to go again to the cave, 
as it was not Ood s will to discover it to any one. The patri- 
arch ordered the place to be walled up, so as to hide it 
effectually from every one unto the present day. The above- 
mentioned R. Abraham told me all this. 

Two parasangs from Jerusalem is Bethlehem of Judea, 
called Beth-lehem ; and within half a mile of it, where several 

* After the slaughter of the Jews of Jenisalein by the crusaders, the few 
that were saved from destruction were dispersed in all directions. Those 
persons who mourned over these unhappy circumstances were called 
** mourners of Jerusalem," and are mentioned under that title more than once 
hy Benjamin. We find these mourners even among the Caraites about 1147. 
We read in several ancient Jewish writers of the danger incurred by the 
Jews who visited Jerusalem while it remained in th^ power of the Christians. 
Pethachia found only one Jew at Jerusalem, whereas Benjamin .speaks of 
200. A numerous congregation was again to be met with there about 1190 ; 
but about 1216 great discord prevailed among them in consequence of the 
pretensions of the different congregations. 


roads meet '^, stands the monument which points out the grave 
of Rachel. This monument is constructed of eleven stones, 
equal to the number of the children of Jacob. It is covered 
by a cupola, which rests upon four pillars ; and every Jew who 
passes there inscribes his name on the stones of the monu- 
ment. Twelve Jews, dyers by profession f, live at Bethlehem. 
The country abounds with rivulets, wells, and springs of water. 
Six parasangs further is Hebron. The ancient city of that 
name was situated on the hill, and lies in ruins at present ; 
whereas the modern town stands in the valley, even in the 
field of Machpelahj. Here is the large 23lace of v/orship 
called St. Abraham, which during the time of the Mohamme- 
dans was a synagogue. The Gentiles have erected six se- 
pulchres in this place, which they pretend to be those of 
Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebecca, and of Jacob and 
Leah ; the pilgrims are told that they are the sepulchres of 
the fathers, and money is extorted from them. But if any 
Jew come, who gives an additional fee to the keeper of the 
cave, an iron door is opened, which dates from the times of 
our forefathers who rest in peace, and with a burning candle 
in his hands, the visitor descends into a first cave, which is 
empty, traverses a second in the same state, and at last 
reaches a third, wdiich contains six sepulchres, those of Abra- 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, one 
opposite the other. All these sepulchres bear inscriptions, 
the letters being engraved : thus, upon that of Abraham, we 
read, " This is the sepulchre of our father Abraham, upon 
whom be peace ;" and so on that of Isaac and upon all the 
other sepulchres. A lamp burns in the cave and upon the 
sepulchres continually, both night and day ; and you there see 
tubs filled with the bones of Israelites, for unto this day it is 
a custom of the house of Israel to bring thither the bones of 
their relicts and of their forefathers, and to them there. 
On the confines of the field of Machpelah stands the house 
of our father Abraham §, who rests in peace ; before which 

* Gen. xxxv. 19, 20. 

f It may be observed that most of the richer stuffs, the sidatons, &c., 
used in the west of Europe during the middle ages, came from the east, 
which accounts for the number of dyers mentioned by the traveller. 

t Gen. xxiii. 19. 

§ The "House of Abraham" is still shown to travellers, about an hour's 
ride from Hebron, the site being occupied by the ruins of a small convent. 


house there is a spring, and, out of respect to Abraham, no- 
body is allowed to construct any building on that site. 

It is five parasangs hence to Beit Jaberim, the ancient Ma- 
reshah'!', where there are but three Jewish inhabitants. Five 
parasangs further bring us to Toron de los Cabal leros, which 
is Shunemfj inhabited by three hundred Jews. We then 
proceed three parasangs to St. Samuel of Shiloh, the ancient 
Shiloh, within two parasangs of Jerusalem. When the Chris- 
tians took Ramleh, which is Ramah, from the Mohammedans, 
they discovered the sepulchre of Samuel the Ramathi| near 
the Jewish synagogue, and removed his remains to Shiloh, 
where they erected a large place of worship over them, called 
St. Samuel of Shiloh to the present day. Hence it is three 
parasangs to Pesipua, which is Gibeah of Saul, or Geba of 
Benjamin ; it contains no Jews. Three parasangs to Beith 
Nubi, which is Nob, the city of the priests. In the middle 
of the road are the two rocks of Jonathan §, the name of 
one of which is Botsets, and of the other Sene. The two 
Jews who live here are dyers. 

It is three parasangs hence to Ramleh, which is Harama, 
where you still find walls erected by our forefathers, as is 
evident from the inscriptions upon the stones. The city con- 
tains about three Jews ; but it was formerly very considerable, 
for a Jewish cemetery in its vicinity is tw^o miles in extent. 
Five parasangs hence to Jaffa, the Japho of Scripture, on the 
coast; one Jew only, a dyer by profession, lives here. Three 
parasangs to Ibelin, the ancient Jabneh||, where the site of the 
schools may still be traced ; it contains no Jews. Here was 
the frontier of the tribe of Ephraim. Two parasangs to Pal- 
mis, or Asdoudll, formerly a city of the Philistines, at present 
in ruins, and containing no Jews. Two parasangs to Ascalon, 

^ Joshua, XV. 44. It is the Bethogabris of the Greek and Latin writers^ 
and supposed to be the Eleutheropolis of the early Christian fathers. 

+ Joshua, xix. 18. 

t 1 Sam. i. 1. 

§ The rocks of Jonathan, mentioned (1 Sam. xiv. 5) as being between 
G-ibeah and Michmash, and which formed a narrow path between the two 
places, were also seen by Robinson and Smith. "Directly between Jeba 
and Mukhmas are two conical hills, not very high, which are probably the 
scene of Jonathan's romantic adventure against the Philistines, recorded in 
1 Sam. xiv." 

II 2 Chron. xxvi. 6. 

^ The Azotus of the ancient geographers. 

88 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1163. 

which is in fact the New Ascalon, built on the coast by Esra 
the priest, of blessed memory, and originally called Benebra, 
distant about four parasniigs from ancient Ascalon, which lies 
in ruins. This city is very large and handsome ; and mer- 
chants from all parts resort to it, on account of its convenient 
situation on the confines of Egypt. There are here about two 
hundred rabbanite Jews, of whom the principal are K. Tse- 
mach, R. iVaron, and R. Solomon, besides about forty Caraites, 
and about three hundred Cutheans or Samaritans. In the 
city is a fountain called Bir Ibrahim-al-Khahil, which was 
dug in the time of the Philistines. From hence back to St. 
George, which is Lydda, and in one day and a half to Serain, 
the Jezreel of Scripture-!^, a city containing a remarkably 
large fountain. It has one Jewish inhabitant, a dyer. Three 
parasangs to Sufurieh, the Tsippori of antiquity f. The sepul- 
chres of Rabenu Hakkadosh, of R. Chija, who came back from 
Babylon, and of Jonah the son of Amittai the prophet, are 
shown here ; they are buried in the mountain, which also 
contains numerous other sepulchres. 

From hence it is five parasangs to Tiberias, a city situated 
on the Jordan, which here bears the name of the Sea of Chin- 
nerethj, or Lake of Tiberias. Here are the falls of the Jor- 
dan, in consequence of which the place bears also the name 
of Ashdoth-Pisga§, which means " the place where the rapid 
rivers have their fall:" the Jordan afterw^ards empties itself 
into Lake Asphaltes, or the Dead Sea. Tiberias contains 
about fifty Jew^s, the principal of whom are R. Abraham the 
astronomer II, R. Muchthar, and R. Isaac. The hot waters, 
which spout forth from under ground, are called the w^arm 
baths of Tiberias. In the vicinity is the synagogue of Kha 

* The Esdraela of the Greeks, called by the historians of the crusades 
Gerinum and Zarain. 

f Now called Sephoury. 

Ij: Numbers, xxxiv. 11. 

§ Deut. iii. 17. 

II Durinor the middle ages Jews were not unfrequently employed as astro- 
logers by the Arabian princes. R. Isaac, the son of Baruch (a.d. 1080), 
appears, among others, to have rendered services of this kind to Almohammad. 
King Alphonso of Castile also entertained Jews who were proficients in 
astrology. The surname TW^n, astrologer, was borne by Abraham in Tiberias. 
Eliezer, author of an astrological book of chances, lived in 1559. We also 
find mention of Joseph, astrologer of Seifeddin, sultan of Mosul ; R. Isaac, 
an astronomer of the twelfth century in France; and Salomon, an astro- 
nomer in Nineveh. 


leb, son of Jepuiieh ; and among numerous other Jewish 
sepulchres are those of R. Jochanan, son of Zakhai^, and of 
R. Jonathan, son of Levi. These are aR in Lower GaUlee. 
Two parasangs bring us to Tebnin, the Thimnatha of Scrip- 
ture f, W'here you find the sepulchre of Samuel (Simeon) the 
Just, and many other sepulchres of Israelites. It is hence one 
day to Gish, which is Gush Chaleb, and contains about twenty 
Jewish inhabitants. We go hence six parasangs to Meroon, 
which is Maron I; in a cave near this place are the sepulchres of 
Hillel and Shamai, and of twenty of their disciples, as well as 
those of R. Benjamin, son of Jephet, and of R. Juda, son of 
Bethera. Six parasangs to Alma, which contains fifty Jewish 
inhabitants, and a large cemetery of the Israelites. Half a 
day brings you to Kades, which is Kadesh Naphtha! i, on the 
banks of the Jordan. Here are the sepulchres of R. Eleasar, 
son of Arach, of R. Eleasar, son of Asariah, of Chuni Hama- 
agal, of R. Simeon, son of Gamaliel, of R. Jose Hagelili, and 
of Barak the son of Abinoam §. This place contains no Jews. 
A day's journey brings us to Belinas||, the ancient Dan^i, 

* Jochanan, son of Zakhai, was a celebrated teacher of the Mishna in the 
time of Vespasian ; later catalogues mention his sepulchre in Tiberias. The 
Jews have a legend relating to him full of extraordinary fables. Some per- 
sons have supposed him to be the ^^ John" mentioned in Acts iv. 6. 

j- This identification is evidently an error, as Thimnatha was in Judea, 
far to the south of Tiberias, and could not be Tebnin. Benjamin falls into 
another error in placing here the sepulchre of Samuel, who was buried in 
Ramah. Mr. Asher proposes to read Simeon. 

X Meirun is still a place of pilgrimage to the Jews of the vicinity, who 
resort thither on certain days to say prayers on the sepulchres of some rabbis ; 
and this corroborates our text, according to which Hillel and Shamai, the two 
most celebrated teachers of the Talmud, who flourished before the birth of 
our Saviour, are interred in a cave near Merun. This legend must have been 
very prevalent at our author's time, as it is also reported by Pethachia, who 
adds that a large stone vase, situated in the cave of the sepulchre, filled itself 
spontaneously with water whenever a worthy man entered it for the purpose 
of devotion, but remained empty if the visitor was a man of doubtful 
character. The two other persons whose sepulchres are mentioned here 
were celebrated teachers of the law, v/ho flourished in the third and second 
centuries; but Jewish writers appear to differ as to the places of their burial. 
The second of them is said to have traced his descent from one of the skele- 
tons restored to life by the prophet Ezekiel. 

§ All the persons mentioned here were celebrated rabbis of the first cen- 
tury before, and the three centuries after Christ, except Barak, who is well 
known by the fourth chapter of the book of Judges. 

II This is Paneas, or Baneas, the ancient Csesarea Philippi. 

^ This identification is not quite correct, the ancient Dan having been 

90 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a D. 1165. 

wliere the traveller may see a cave, from whicli tlie Jordan 
issues, and three miles hence this river unites its waters with 
those of the Anion, a rivulet of the ancient land of Moab. In 
front of the cave you may still trace vestiges of the altar of 
the image of Micha, which was adored by the children of 
Dan in ancient times. Here also is the site of the altar 
erected by Jeroboam, son of Nebat, in honour of the golden 
calf; and here were the confines of the land of Israel toward 
the uttermost sea*. 

Two days from this place brings you to Damascus, a large 
city and the frontier town of the empire of Noureddinf, king 
of the Thogarmim, or Turks. This city is very large and 
handsome, and is inclosed with a wall and surrounded by a 
beautiful country, which in a circuit of fifteen miles presents 
the richest gardens and orchards, in such numbers and beauty 
as to be without equal upon earth. The rivers AmanaJ: and 
Parpar§, the sources of which are on Mount Hermon (on 
which the city leans), run down here ; the Amana follows its 
course through Damascus, and its waters are carried by 
means of pipes into the houses of the principal inhabitants, 
as well as into the streets and markets. A considerable trade 
is carried on here by m.erchants of all countries. The Parpar 
runs between the gardens and orchards in the outskirts, and 
supplies them copiously with water. Damascus contains a 
Mohammedan mosque, called "the Synagogue of Damascus," 
a building of unequalled magnificence. They say that it was 
the palace of Ben-Hadad||, and that one wall of it is framed 
of glass by enchantment. This wall contains as many open- 
ings as there are days in the solar year, and the sun in gra- 

situated on another small rivulet, still called Dan, and distant about four 
Homan miles west of Paneas on the way to Tyre. William of Tyre also 
identifies Dan with Caesarea. The apparent source of the Jordan flows from 
under a cave at the foot of a precipice, in the sides of which are several 
niches with Grreek inscriptions, which Benjamin has mistaken for the altar 
of Micha. 

* This is a mistake of rabbi Benjamin, as this term, used in Deut. xi, 24, 
means the Mediterranean. 

i' It is hardly necessary to state that this was the celebrated sultan of 
Damascus, Aleppo, and Egypt, so well known in the history of the crusades. 
He reigned from 1145 to 1173. 

X 2 Kings, V. 12. The ancient Greek name of the river was Chrj^sorrhoas ; 
in modern Arabic it is called the Barady. 

§ 2 Kings V. 12. It is now called El Faige. 

11 Jerem. xlix. 27; Amos, i. 4. 


dual succession throws its light into the openings, which are 
divided into twelve degrees, equal to the number of the hours 
of the day, so that by this contrivance every body may know 
what time it is. The palace contains vessels richly orna- 
mented wdth gold and silver, formed like tubs, and of a size 
to allow three persons to bathe in them at once. In this 
building is also preserved the rib of a giant, which measures 
nine spans in length, and two in breadth, and which belonged 
to an ancient giant king named Abchamas, whose name was 
found engraved upon a stone of his tomb, and it was further 
stated in the inscription that he reigned over the whole 

This city contains three thousand Jews, many of whom are 
learned and rich men ; it is the residence of the president of 
the university of Palestine, named R. Esra, whose brother, 
Sar Shalom, is the principal of the Jewish court of law. The 
other distinguished Jews are R. Joseph, who ranges fifth in 
the university, R. Matsliach, the lecturer and master of the 
schools, R. Meir, a fio^ver of the learned, R. Joseph Ibn 
Pilath, who may be called the prop of the university, R. He- 
man the elder, and R. Zadok the physician. The city con- 
tains also tw'O hundred Caraites and about four hundred 
Samaritans, sects which here live upon friendly terms, but 
they do not intermarry. 

It is one day's journey thence to Jelaad, which is Gilead; 
it contains about sixty Jews, the principal of whom is R. 
Zadok. The city is large, well watered, and surrounded by 
gardens and orchards. Half a day s journey further stands 
Salkhat, the city of Salcah of Scripture. From thence to 
Baalbec is half a day's journey. This is the city mentioned 
in Scripture as Baalath in the valley of Lebanon, which Solo- 
mon built for the daughter of Pharaoh. The palace is con- 
structed of stones of enormous size, measuring twenty spans 
in length and twelve in breadth ; no binding material holds 
these stones together, and people pretend that the building 
could have been erected only by the help of Ashmodai. A 
copious spring takes its rise at the upper side of the city, 
through which its waters rush like those of a considerable 
river. They are employed in the working of several mills 
within the city, which also incloses numerous gardens and 

Tadmor in the desert was also built by Solomon of equally 

92 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1163, 

large stones ; this city is surrounded by a wall, and stands in 
the desert, far from any inhabited place, being four days' 
journey distant from the above-mentioned Baalath. It con- 
tains two thousand warlike Jews, w^ho are at war with the 
Christians and with the Arabian subjects of Noureddin, and 
assist their neighbours the Mohammedans. Their chiefs are 
E. Isaac Hajevani, R. Nathan, and R. Usiel. Half a day 
brings us to Cariyatin, which is Kirjathaim ; one Jew only, 
a dyer by profession, lives there. One day hence is Hamah, 
the Hamath of Scripture, on the Orontes, under Mount 
Lebanon. Some time ago this city was visited by an earth- 
quake, in consequence of w^hich fifteen thousand men died in 
one day, leaving only seventy survivors -J^. The principals of 
the Jews here are R. Ulah Hacohen, the sheikh Abu al Galeb, 
and Muktar. Half a day to Reiha, which is Hazor. Three 
parasangs to Lamdin, from whence it is a journey of two days 
to Aleppo, the Aram Zoba of Scripture. This city is the re- 
sidence of king Noureddin, and contains his palace, a build- 
ing fortified by an extraordinarily high wall. There being 
neither spring nor river, the inhabitants are obliged to drink 
rain-water, which is collected in every house in a cistern 
called in Arabic, Algub. The principal of the fifteen hundred 
Jews who live in Aleppo are R. Moses el-Constandini, R. 
Israel, and R. Seth. 

To Bales, which is Pethor f on the Euphrates, two days. 
Even at this day you there still find remains of the tower of 
Balaam the son of Beor (may the name of the wicked rot!) 
which he built in accordance with the hours of the day. This 
place contains about ten Jew^s. Half a day hence we come 
to Kala Jiaber J, which is Sela Midbarah. This city remained 

* The earthquake alluded to visited this part of Syria in 1157, at which 
period Hamah, Antiochia, Emessa, Apamea, Laodicea, and many other cities, 
were laid in ruins. R. Benjamin calls the river Orontes Jabbok ; the 
Arabians call it Oroad, or Asi. Rieha, or Rieha, is a name still borne by a 
place and mountain in this part of the road from Damascus to Aleppo. 
Burckhardt mentions ruins of numerous towns still visible on the mountain, 
among which we must look for Lamdin, mentioned in our text, but by no 
other traveller or geographer. The road between Damascus and Aleppo, pur- 
sued even by all modern travellers, goes by Horns and Tadmor. Burckhardt 
was the first to deviate from this route. 

+ Numb. xxii. 5. Deut. xxiii. 4. It is the Barbarissus of the Romans. 
Bales was taken by the crusaders under Tancred in 1111. 

X The Dauses, or Davana, of the Greeks. In the history of the crusades, 
Kalat (or fort) Jiaber is often mentioned ; and the circumstances alluded to 


in the power of the Arabs even at the time when the Tho- 
garmim (or Turks) took their country and dispersed them in 
the desert. It contains about two thousand Jews, of whom 
E. Zedekiah, R. Chia, and R Solomon are the principal. 
One day brings us to Racca, which is Calneh of Scripture *, 
on the confines of Mesopotamia, being the frontier town 
between that country and the empire of the Thogarmim (or 
Turks) ; it contains about seven hundred Jewish inhabitants, 
the principal of whom are R. Sakhai, R. Nadib, who is blind, 
and R. Joseph. One of the synagogues was built by Esra the 
scribe, when he returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. It is 
one day hence to the ancient place of Haran f , which contains 
twenty Jewish inhabitants, who also possess a synagogue erected 
by Esra. Nobody is allowed to construct any building on the 
spot where the house of our father Abraham was situated ; 
even the Mohammedans pay respect to the place, and resort 

thither to pray. Two days' journey from thence is I 

at the mouth of the El-Khabur, the Habor of Scripture. This 
river takes its course through Media, and loses itself in the 
Kizil Ozein. About two hundred Jews dwell near this place. 
Two days to Nisibin, a large city plentifully watered, and con- 
taining about one thousand Jews. Two days to Jezireh Ben 
Omar, an island in the Tigris, at the foot of Mount Ararat §, 
and four miles distant from the spot where the ark of Noah 
rested ; Omar Ben al-Khatab removed the ark from the sum- 
mit of the two mountains and made a mosque of it. There 
still exists in the vicinity of the ark a synagogue of Esra the 

by our author are told at length by Desguignes. In Abulfeda's time this 
place was a deserted ruin ; but the castle, built on a mound of marl and 
gypsum, still stands, thirty-five miles below Bir, on the left bank of the 

* The Callinicus of the Greeks, afterwards called Nicephorium. 

f The Carrhae of the ancients. The site of the house of Abraham is still 
pointed out as an object of veneration. Mr. Asher observes that, from Aleppo 
to Racca, our author, like most modern and ancient travellers, followed the 
course of the Euphrates ; but being probably attracted, like Marco Polo, b}' 
the considerable trade then carried on at Mosul, he proceeded thither from 
Racca, by way of Haran, Nisibis, and Jezireh, a route pointed out as pro- 
bably used by Alexander on Kennel's map of the retreat of the Ten Thousand. 

X It appears that the name of a city is omitted here. Our author probably 
wrote " from thence to Ras-el-Ain," at which place the Khabur becomes a 
formidable river. 

§ This is of course not the true Ararat. It is called Jebel Judi. The 
island is the ancient Bezebde. 

94 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1164 

scribe, which is visited by the Jews of the city on the 9th of 
Ab 'i^ The city of Jezireh Omar Ben al-Khatab contains 
about four thousand Jews, the principals of whom are E. Mub- 
char, E. Joseph, and E. Chiia. 

Two days from thence stands Mosul, mentioned in Scripture 
as Ashur the great, which contains about seven thousand Jews, 
the principal of whom are E. Sakhai, the prince, a descendant 
of King David, and E. Joseph, surnamed Borhan-al-Phulkh, 
who is astronomer of Seifeddin, the brother of Noureddin, 
king of Damascus. This city, situated on the confines of 
Persia, is of great extent and very ancient ; it stands on the 
banks of the Tigris, and is joined by a bridge to Nineveh. 
Although the latter lies in ruins, there are numerous inhabited 
villages and small towns on its site. Nineveh is on the 
Tigris, distant one parasang from the town of Arbilf. Mosul 
contains the synagogues of Obadiah, of Jonah, son of Amittai, 
and of Nahum the Elkoshite. It is three days hence to 
Eahabah, which is Eehoboth, by the river Euphrates, and con- 
tains about two thousand Jews, the principal of whom are E. 
Ezekiah, E. Ehud, and E. Isaac. The city is surrounded by 
a wall, it is very handsome, large, and well fortified ; and the 
environs abound with gardens and orchards. One day to 
Karkisia j, the Carchemish of Scripture, on the banks of the 
Euphrates, containing about five hundred Jewish inhabitants, 
of whom the principal are E. Isaac and E. Elchanan. Two 
days to Juba, which is Pumbeditha, in Nehardea; it contains 
about two thousand Jews, some of them eminent scholars. 
The rabbi E. Chen, E. Moses, and E. Eliakim are the prin- 
cipal. Here the traveller may see the sepulchres of E. Juda 
and E. Samuel, opposite two synagogues which they erected 
during their lives ; as well as the sepulchres of Pi. Bosthenai, 
the prince of the captivity, of E. Nathan, and of E. Nach- 
man, the son of Papa §. Five days to Hardah (or Hadrah), 
containing fifteen thousand Jews, of wdiom E. Saken, E. 
Joseph, and E. Nathaniel are the principal. Two days to 
Akbara, the city which was built by Jeconiah, king of Juda ; 
it contains about ten thousand Jews, the principal of whom 
are E. Joshua and E. Nathan. 

* See p. 68, note. f The ancient Erbela. Ij: The ancient Cercusiiim. 
§ All these were celebrated Jewish rabbis in the earlier centuries of the 
Christian era. 

A.D. 1164.] BAGDAD THE KlIALIF. 95 

Two clays from thence stands Bagdad, the large metropolis 
of the khalif Emir-al-Mumenin al Abassi, of the family of their 
prophet, who is the chief of the Mohammedan religion ^^. All 
Mohammedan kings acknowledge him, and he holds the same 
dignity over them which the pope enjoys over the Christians. 
The palace of the khalif at Bagdad is three miles in extent. 
It contains a large park filled wdth all sorts of trees, both 
useful and ornamental, and all kinds of beasts, as well as a pond 
of water carried thither from the river Tigris ; and whenever 
the khalif desires to enjoy himself and to sport and ca- 
rouse, birds, beasts, and fishes are prepared for him and for 
his courtiers, whom he invites to his palace. This great Abas- 
side is extremely friendly towards the Jews, many of his 
officers being of that nation ; he understands all languages, is 
well versed in the Mosaic law, and reads and writes the 
Hebrew tongue. He enjoys nothing but what he earns 
by the labour of his own hands, and therefore manufactures 
coverlets, which he stamps with his seal, and which his of- 
ficers sell in the public market ; these articles are purchased 
by the nobles of the land, and from their produce his neces • 
saries are provided. The khalif is an excellent man, trust- 
worthy and kind-hearted towards every one, but generally in- 
visible to the Mohammedans. The pilgrims, who come hither 
from distant countries on their way to Mecca in Yemen, 
desire to he presented to him, and thus address him from the 
palace : " Our lord, light of the Mohammedans and splendour 
of our religion, show us the brightness of thy countenance ; " 
but he heeds not their words. His servants and officers then 
approach and pray : "0 lord, manifest thy peace to these 
men who come from distant lands and desire shelter in the 
shadow of thy glory." After this petition, he rises and puts 
one corner of his garment out of the window, which the pil- 
grims eagerly kiss. One of the lords then addresses them 
thus : " Go in peace, for oar lord, the light of the Moham- 
medans, is well pleased and gives you his blessing." This 
prince being esteemed by them equal to their prophet, they 
proceed on their way, full of joy at the words addressed to 
them by the lord who communicated the message of peace. 
All the brothers and other members of the khalif s family 

* The khalif alluded to by Benjamin was either Moktafi, who died in 
1160, or Mostanjehabnl-Modhaffer, who reigned from his death to 1170. 
It is probable that Benjamin was at Bagdad in 1164. 


are accustomed to kiss his garments. Every one of tlieni 
possesses a palace within that of the khalif, but thej are all 
bound with chains of iron, and a special officer is appointed over 
each household to prevent their rising in rebellion against 
the great king. These measures are taken in conse- 
quence of what occurred some time ago, when the brothers 
rebelled and elected a king among themselves*; to prevent 
which in future it was decreed, that all the members of the 
khalif 's family should be chained, in order to prevent their 
rebellious intentions. Every one of them, however, resides in 
his palace, and is there much honoured; and they possess 
villages and towns, the rents of which are collected for them 
by their stewards. They eat and drink, and lead a merry 
life. The palace of the great king contains large buildings, 
pillars of gold and silver, and treasures of precious stones. 

The khalif leaves his palace but once every year, viz. at 
the time of the feast called Ramadan; on which occasion 
many visitors assemble from distant parts, in order to have 
an opportunity of beholding his countenance. He then be- 
strides the royal mule, dressed in kingly robes, which are 
composed of gold and silver cloth. On his head he wears a 
turban, ornamented with precious stones of inestimable value ; 
but over this turban is thrown a black veil, as a sign of humi- 
lity, and as much as to say : " See all this worldly honour 
will be converted into darkness on the day of death." He is 
accompanied by a numerous retinue of Mohammedan nobles, 
arrayed in rich dresses and riding upon horses, princes of 
Arabia, of Media, of Persia, and even of Tibet, a country dis- 
tant three months' journey from Arabia. The procession goes 
from the palace to the mosque at the Bozra gate, which is 
the metropolitan mosque. All who walk in procession, both 
men and women, are dressed in silk and purple. The streets 
and squares are enlivened with singing and rejoicing, and by 
parties who dance before the great king, called khalif. He is 
saluted loudly by the assembled crowd, who cry : " Blessed 
art thou, our lord and king." He thereupon kisses his 
garment, and by holding it in his hand, acknowledges and re- 
turns the compliment. The procession moves on into the 
court of the mosque, where the khalif mounts a wooden 
pulpit and expounds their law unto them. The learned 
Mohammedans rise, pray for him, and praise his great kind- 
ness and piety; upon which the whole assembly answer, 


" Amen ! " The klialif then pronounces his blessing, and kills 
a camel, which is led thither for that purpose, and this is 
their offering. It is distributed to the nobles, who send por- 
tions of it to their friends, who are eager to taste of the meat 
killed by the hands of their holy king, and are much re- 
joiced therewith. The khalif, after this ceremony, leaves the 
mosque, and returns alone, along the banks of the Tigris, to 
his palace, the noble Mohammedans accompanying him in boats, 
until he enters this building. He never returns by the way 
he came ; and the path on the bank of the river is carefully 
guarded all the year round, so as to prevent any one treading 
in his footsteps. The khalif never leaves his palace again 
for a whole year. He is a pious and benevolent man, and 
has erected buildings on the other side of the river, on the 
banks of an arm of the Euphrates, which runs on one side of 
the city. These buildings include many large houses, streets, 
and hostelries for the sick poor, who resort thither in order 
to be cured. There are about sixty medical warehouses here, 
all well provided from the king's stores with spices and other 
necessaries ; and every patient who claims assistance is fed at 
the king's expense, until his cure is completed. 

There is further a large building, called Dar-al-Maraph- 
tan '1', in which are confined all the insane persons who are 
met with, particularly during the hot season, every one of 
whom is secured by iron chains until his reason returns, when 
he is allowed to return to his home. For this purpose they 
are regularly examined once a month by officers appointed 
by the king for that purpose; and when they are found to be 
possessed of reason they are immediately liberated. All this 
is done by the king in pure charity towards all who come to 
Bagdad, either ill or insane ; for the king is a pious man, and 
his intention is excellent in this respect. 

Bagdad contains about one thousand Jews, who enjoy peace, 
comfort, and much honour under the government of the great 
king. Among them are very wise men and presidents of the 
colleges, whose occupation is the study of the Mosaic law. 
The city contains ten colleges. The principal of the great 
college is the rabbi R. Samuel, the son of Eli, principal of 
the college Geon Jacob ; the provost of the Levites is the 
president of the second ; R. Daniel, the master of the third 

* Dar-al-Morabittan in Arabic; literally, abode of those who require being 
chained, i, e. of the raving mad. 


98 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1164. 

college; K. Eleasar, the fellow, presides over the fourth; R. 
Eleasar, the son of Tsemach, is chief of the fifth college ; he 
is master of the studies, and possesses a pedigree of his de- 
scent from the prophet Samuel, who rests in peace, and he 
and his brothers know the melodies that were sung in the 
temple during its existence ; R. Chasadiah, principal fellow, 
is the master of the sixth, R. Chagai, the prince, the principal 
of the seventh, and R. Esra, the president of the eighth col- 
lege ; R. Abraham, called Abu Tahir, presides over the ninth, 
and R. Zakhai, son of Bosthenai, master of the studies, is pre- 
sident of the tenth college. All these are called Batlanim, 
i. e. the Idle : because their sole occupation consists in the 
discharge of public business. During every day of the week 
they dispense justice to all the Jewish inhabitants of the 
country, except Monday, which is set aside for assemblies 
under the presidency of the rabbi Samuel, master of the col- 
lege Geon Jacob, who on that day dispenses justice to every 
applicant, and is assisted therein by the other Batlanim, presi- 
dents of the colleges. 

The principal of all these, however, is R. Daniel, the son of 
Chisdai, who bears the titles of Prince of the Captivity and 
Lord, and who possesses a pedigree which proves his descent 
from king David. The Jews call him " Lord, Prince of the 
Captivity," and the Mohammedans entitle him Saidna Ben 
Daoud, noble descendant of David. He holds great com- 
mand over all Jewish congregations under the authority of 
the Emir-al-Mumenin, the lord of the Mohammedans, who 
lias commanded that he shall be respected, and has confirmed 
his power by granting him a seal of office. Every one of his 
subjects, whether he be Jew or Mohammedan or of any other 
faith, is commanded to rise in the presence of the prince of 
the captivity, and to salute him respectfully, under a penalty 
of one hundred stripes. Whenever he pays a visit to the 
king, he is escorted by numerous horsemen, both Jews and 
Gentiles, and a crier proclaims aloud : " Make way before our 
lord the son of David, as becomes his dignity ; " in Arabic, 
Amilu tarik la-saidna hen-Daud. Upon these occasions 
lie rides upon a horse, and his dress is composed of em- 
broidered silk; on his head he wears a large turban 
covered with a white cloth, and surmounted by a chain (or 
diadem). The authority of the prince of the captivity extends 
over the countries of Mesopotamia, Persia, Khorassan, Seba, 


which is Yemen, Diarbekh, all Armenia and the land of Kota 
near Mount Ararat, over the country of the Alanians, which 
is shut in by mountains, and has no outlet except by the iron 
gates which were made by Alexander, over Sikbia and all the 
provinces of the Turkmans unto the Aspisian mountains, over 
the country of the Georgians unto the river Oxus (these are 
the Girgasim of Scripture, and believe in Christianity), and 
as far as the frontiers of the provinces and cities of Tibet and 
India. All the Jewish congregations of these different coun- 
tries receive authority from the prince of captivity to elect 
rabbis and ministers, all of whom appear before him in order 
to receive consecration -i'^ and the permission to officiate, upon 
which occasions presents and valuable gifts are offered to him, 
even from the remotest countries. The prince of the cap- 
tivity possesses hostelries, gardens, and orchards in Babylonia, 
and extensive landed property inherited from his forefathers, 
of which nobody can deprive him. He enjoys a certain yearly 
income from the Jewish hostelries, the markets, and the mer- 
chandise of the country, which is levied in form of a tax, over 
and above what is presented to him from foreign countries. 
He is very rich, an excellent scholar, and so hospitable, that 
numerous Israelites dine at his table every day. At the time 
of the installation of the prince of the captivity he expends 
considerable sums in presents to the king (or khalif), and to 
his princes and nobles. This ceremony is performed by the 
king or khalif, who lays his hands on the prince, after which 
the latter rides home from the king's abode to his own house, 
seated in a royal state carriage, and accompanied with the 
sound of various musical instruments ; he afterwards lays his 
hands on the gentlemen of the university, to reins tal them. 
Many of the Jews of Bagdad are good scholars and very rich. 
The city contains twenty-eight Jewish synagogues, situated 
partly in Bagdad and partly in Al-Khorkh, on the other side 
of the river Tigris, which runs through and divides the city. 
The metropolitan synagogue of the prince of the captivity is 
ornamented with pillars of richly coloured marble, plated with 
gold and silver; on the pillars are inscribed verses of the 
.Psalms in letters of gold. The ascent to the holy ark f is 

* The ceremony of consecration, performed by the prince of captivity^ 
consisted in his laying his hands on the heads of the candidates. 

+ The place where the rolls of the Pentateuch are deposited. It is gene- 
rally elevated aljove the seats of the congregation. 


100 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1164. 

composed of ten marble steps, on the uppermost of which are 
the stalls set apart for the prince of the captivity and the 
other princes of the house of David. 

The city of Bagdad is three miles in circumference ; the 
country in which it is situated is rich in palm-trees, gardens, 
and orchards, so that nothing equals it in Mesopotamia. 
Merchants of all countries resort thither for purposes of trade, 
and it contains many wise philosophers, well skilled in sciences, 
and magicians proficient in all sorts of enchantment. 

Two days from hence stands Gihiagin, or Ras-al-Ain, which 
is Resen, "the great city;"-!^ it contains about five thousand 
Jews and a large synagogue. In a house near the synagogue 

is the sepulchre off ; and, in a cave below it, that of 

his twelve disciples. From hence it is one day to Babylon. 
This is the ancient Babel, and now lies in ruins ; but the 
streets still extend thirty miles. The ruins of the palace of 
Nebuchadnezzar are still to be seen ; but people are afraid to 
venture among them on account of the serpents and scoi-pions 
with which they are infested. Twenty thousand Jews live 
within about twenty miles from this place, and perform their 
worship in the synagogue of Daniel, who rests in peace. This 
synagogue is of remote antiquity, having been built by Daniel 
himself; it is constructed of solid stones and bricks. Here 
the traveller may also behold the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, 
with the burning fiery furnace into which w^ere thrown Hana- 
niah, Mishael, and Azariah; it is a valley well known to 
every one J. Hillah, which is at a distance of five miles, 
contains about ten thousand Jews and four synagogues, one 
of which is that of R. Meier, whose sepulchre is in front of it ; 
another is that of R. Seiri, son of Hama, and R. Miri§. 
Public worship is performed daily in these synagogues. Four 
miles from hence is the tower built by the dispersed gene- 
ration ||. It is constructed of bricks called al-ajurr; the base 
measures two miles, the breadth two hundred and forty yards, 

* Gen. X. 12. Ras-al-Ain is the Ressaina of tlie Romans; it is errone- 
ously identified with Resen. 

+ The name is omitted in all editions. 

X This tradition of the burning furnace is mentioned by the Arabian geo- 
graphers, by whom we are further informed that the ashes still remained. 

§ These are also some of the early rabbis concerning whom the Jews pos- 
sess many legends; the places of burial of others are mentioned further on. 

il Benjamin here alludes to the Birs Nimrud, which is, however, more than 
four miles from Hillah. Al-ajnrr is the Persian word for these bricks. 


and the height about one hundred canna. A spiral passage, 
built into the tower (in stages of ten yards each), leads up to 
the summit, from which we have a prospect of twenty miles, 
the country being one wide plain and quite level. The heavenly 
fire, which struck the tower, split it to its very foundation. 

Half a day from hence, at Napacha *, which contains two 
hundred Jews, is the synagogue of R. Isaac Napacha, in 
front of which is his sepulchre. Three parasangs hence, on 
the banks of the Euphrates, stands the synagogue of the 
prophet Ezekiel, who rests in peace f . The place of the sy- 
nagogue is fronted by sixty towers, the space between every 
two of which is also occupied by a synagogue ; in the court of 
the largest stands the ark, and behind it is the sepulchre of 
Ezekiel, the son of Buzi the priest. This monument is 
covered with a large cupola, and the building is very hand- 
some ; it was erected by Jechoniah, king of Juda, and the 
thirty five thousand Jews who went along with him, when 
Evil-Merodach released him from the prison |, which was 
situated between the river Chaboras and another river. The 
names of Jechoniah and of all those who came with him are 
inscribed on the wall, the king's name first, that of Ezekiel 
last. This place is considered holy even to the present day, 
and is one of those to which people resort from remote coun- 
tries in order to pray, particularly at the season of new year 
and atonement day §. There are great rejoicings here at 
that time, which are attended even by the prince of the cap- 
tivity and the presidents of the colleges of Bagdad. The 
assembly is so large, that their temporary abodes cover twenty- 
two miles of open ground, and attract many Arabian mer- 
chants, who keep a market or fair. On the day of atonement 
the proper lesson of the day is read from a very large manu- 
script Pentateuch in Ezekiel's own handwriting. A lamp 
burns night and day on the sepulchre of the prophet, and has 
always been kept burning since the day he lighted it himself; 
the oil and wicks are renewed as often as necessary. A large 
house belonging to the sanctuary contains a very numerous 
collection of books, some of them as ancient as the second, 

* Perhaps the Nachaba of Ptolemy. It is not found in modem maps. 

+ This celebrated sepulchre is still a place of pilgrimage to the Jews and 
Mohammedans in the east. 

Ij: 2 Kings, XXV. 27. Jerem. lii. 81. 

§ Celebrated on the first and tenth of Thishri (about the end of September 
or the beginning of October). 

103 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [A.D. 1165. 

some even coeval \\atli the first temple, it being the custom 
that whoever dies childless bequeaths his books to this sanc- 
tuary. The inhabitants of the country lead to the sepulchre 
all foreign Jews, who come from Media and Persia to visit it 
in fulfilment of vows. The noble Mohammedans also resort 
thither to pray, because they hold the prophet Ezekiel, on 
whom be peace ! in great veneration, and they call this place 
Dar Melicha (the agreeable abode) ; the sepulchre is also 
visited by all devout Arabs. Within half a mile of the syna- 
gogue are the sepulchres of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 
each covered with a large cupola. Even in times of war, 
neither Jew nor Mohammedan ventures to despoil and profane 
the sepulchre of Ezekiel. 

Three miles from hence stands the city of Al-Kotsonaath, 
containing three hundred Jewish inhabitants and the sepul- 
chres of 6. Papa, K. Huna, R. Joseph Sinai, and R. Joseph, 
the son of Hama, in front of each of which is a synagogue in 
which Jews daily pray. Three parasangs to Ain Japhata, 
which contains the sepulchre of the prophet Nahum the Elko- 
shite, who rests in peace. In a Persian village, a day from 
thence, are the sepulchres of R. Chisdai, R. Akiba, and R. 
Dossa ; and in another village, half a day's distance in the 
desert, are those of R. David, R. Juda, R. Kubreh, R. Se- 
chora, and R. Aba ; and on the river Lega, a distance of one 
day, that of king Zedekiah-^, who rests in peace; the latter is 
ornamented by a large cupola f . It is one day hence to the 
city of Kufa, which contains about seventy thousand Jews ; and 
in it is the sepulchre of king Jechoniah, which consists of a 
large building with a synagogue in front. One day and a half 
to Sura, the place called in the Talmud Matha-Mechasia, 
formerly the residence of the princes of the captivity and of 
the principals of the colleges. At Sura are the sepulchres of 
R. Shrira and his son Rabenu Hai, Rabenu Sadiah-al-Fajumi, 
R. Samuel, the son of Chophni the priest, and Zephaniah, the 
son of Khushi, the son of Gedaliah the prophet, and of many 
other princes of the captivity, descendants of the house of 
David, who formerly resided there before the city was ruined. 

* 2 Kings, xxiv. 17. 

f The sites of Ain Japhata, and the other places mentioned here, have not 
yet been traced by modern travellers. Colonel Shiel (' Journal of the Geog. 
Soc./ vol. viii, p. 93) found a tomb near l^lkoth, east of the Tigris, at the foot 
of the mountains which border Kurdistan, which the natives described as 
that of Nahum. 

A.D. 1165.] AEABIA. 103 

Two days from thence is Shafjathib, where there is a syna- 
gogue, which the Israelites erected with earth and stones 
brought from Jerusalem, and which they called " the trans- 
planted of Nehardea." One day and a half from thence is El 
Jubar, or Pombeditha, on the river Euphrates, containing about 
three thousand Jews, and the synagogues, sepulchres, and col- 
leges of Eab and Samuel. 

At twenty-one days' journey through the desert of Sheba, 
or Al- Yemen, from which Mesopotamia lies in a northerly 
direction, are the abodes of the Jews who are called Beni 
(children of) Kechab, men of Thema. The seat of their 
government is at Thema (or Tehama), where their prince and 
governor rabbi Chanan resides. This city is large, and the 
extent of their country is sixteen days' journey towards the 
northern mountain range. They possess large and strong 
cities and are not subject to any of the Gentiles, but undertake 
warlike expeditions into distant provinces with the Ara- 
bians, their neighbours and allies, to take the spoil and the 
prey. These Arabians are Bedouins, who live in tents in the 
deserts and have no fixed abode, and who are in the habit of 
undertaking marauding expeditions into the province of 
Yemen. The Jews are a terror to their neighbours. Their 
country being very extensive, some of them cultivate the land 
and rear cattle. A number of studious and learned men, 
who spend their lives in the study of the law, are maintained 
by the tithes of all produce, part of which is also employed 
towards sustaining the poor and the ascetics, called " Mourners 
of Sion " and ''- Mourners of Jerusalem." These eat no meat 
•and abstain from wine, dress always in black, and live in 
caves or in low houses, and keep fasts all their lives except 
on Sabbaths and holy-days '^. They continually implore the 
mercy of God for the Jews in exile, and devoutly pray that 
he may have compassion on them for the sake of his own 
great nauie ; and they also include in their prayers all the 
Jews of Tehama and of Telmas. The latter contains about 
one hundred thousand Jews, who are governed by prince 
Salomon, who, as well as his brother, prince Chanan, are de- 
scendants of the royal house of David, who rests in peace, 
which is proved by their pedigrees. In doubtful cases they 
solicit the decisions of the prince of the captivity, and set 

* Fasting being prohibited on these days by the Talmud. This proves 
Niebuhr's supposition, that they were Talmudists, to be correct. 

104 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1165. 

aside forty days of every year, during whicli they go in rent 
clothes, and keep fasts, and pray for all the Jews who live in. 

The province of which Thanaejm is the metropolis con- 
tains forty cities, two hundred villages, and one hundred 
email tow^ns, and is inhabited by about three hundred thousand 
Jews. Thanaejm is a very strong city, fifteen square miles in 
extent, and large enough to allow agriculture to be carried on 
within its boundaries ; within which are also situated the 
palace of prince Salomon, and many gardens and orchards. 
Telmas is also a city of considerable magnitude ; it contains 
about one hundred thousand Jews, is strongly fortified, and 
situated between two very high mountains. Many of its in- 
habitants are w^ell informed, wise, and rich. The distance 
from Telmas to Chaibar is three days journey. It is reported 
that these Jews are of the tribes of Eeuben, Gad, and half the 
tribe of Manasseh, who were led away captives by Shalmaneser, 
king of Ashur, and who repaired into these mountainous regions, 
where they erected the above-named large and strong cities. 
They carry on war with many kingdoms, and are not easily 
to be reached because of their situation, which requires a 
march of eighteen days through uninhabited deserts, and 
thus renders them difficult of access. 

Chaibar is also a very large city, and contains among its 
fifty thousand Jewish inhabitants many learned scholars. 
The people of this city are valiant, and engaged in wars with 
the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, with those of the northern 
districts, and with those of Yemen, who live near them ; the 
latter province borders on India. It is a distance of twenty- 
five days' journey from the country of these Jews to .... ^ 
on the river Virah, in Yemen, which place contains about 
three thousand Jews. Wasetf is distant seven days, and 
contains about ten thousand Jew^s, among whom is R. Nedain. 
Eive days hence bring us to Bassora on the Tigris, which 
contains two thousand Israelites, many of w^hom are learned 
and wealthy. From hence it is tw^o days to t on 

* The name of a city appears to be omitted here. 

f Waset is the ancient Cybate. The Hebrew text reads Naset, which 
Mr. Asher has rightly corrected. 

:J: The name of a city is omitted here ; no doubt Kornah, on the Samarra, 
or ancient Delos. The sepulchre of Ezra is described by various moderu 
travellers ; it is still an object of pilgrimage to the Jews of the east. 


the river Samarra, or Shat-el-Arab. This is the frontier of 
Persia, and contains fifteen hundred Jews. The sepulchre of 
Ezra the priest and scribe is in this place, where he died on 
his journey from Jerusalem to king Artaxerxes. In front of 
the sepulchre a large synagogue and a Mohammedan mosque 
have been erected, the latter as a mark of the veneration in 
which Ezra is held by the Mohammedans, who are very friendly 
towards the Jews, and resort thither to pray. 

Four miles from thence begins Khuzistan, the Elam of Scrip- 
ture, a large province, which, however, is but partially inhar 
bited, a portion of it lying in ruins. Among the latter are 
the remains of Shushan-^'^ the metropolis and palace of king 
Ahasuerus, wiiich still contains very large and handsome build- 
ings of ancient date. It has seven thousand Jewish inhabitants, 
with fourteen synagogues ; in front of one of which is the 
sepulchre of Daniel, who rests in peace. The river Ulai 
divides the city into two parts, which are connected by a 
bridge; that portion of it which is inhabited by the Jews 
contains the markets, to which all trade is confined, and there 
all the rich dwell ; on the other side of the river they are 
poor, because they are deprived of the above-named advan- 
tages, and have even no gardens or orchards. These circum- 
stances gave rise to jealousy, which was fostered by the belief 
that all honour and riches originated in the possession of the 
remains of the prophet Daniel, who rests in peace, and who 
was buried on the favoured side of the river. A request was 
made by the poor for permission to remove the sepulchre to 
the other side, but it was rejected; upon wliich a war arose, 
and was carried on between the two parties for a length of 
time; this strife lasted until "their souls become loath," and 
they came to a mutual agreement, by which it was arranged 
that the coffin which contained Daniel's bones should be de- 
posited alternately every year on either side. Both parties 
faithfully adhered to this arrangement, until it was inter- 
rupted by the interference of Sanjar Shah ben Shalif, who go- 
verns all Persia, and holds supreme power over forty-five of its 

■* The exact site of Shushan (Susa) is a subject of some doubt among 
modern geographers. The old Arabian writers give a variety of legends 
relating to Daniel's tomb. 

f Sanjar was a very celebrated and powerful prince. He conquered Samar- 
kand in 1140, and died in 1157, shortly before Benjamin visited the east. 


kings. This prince is called in Arabic Sultan-al-Fars-al- 
Khabir (Supreme Commander of Persia), and his empire ex- 
tends from the banks of the Shat-el-Arab to the city of Sa- 
markand and the Kizil Ozein, inclosing the city of Nishapur, 
the cities of Media, and the Chaphton mountains, and reaches 
as far as Thibet, in the forests of which country that quadruped 
is found which yields the musk. The extent of his empire 
is four months and four days' journey. When this great em- 
peror, Sanjar king of Persia, came to Shushan and saw that 
the coffin of Daniel was removed from one side to the other, 
he crossed the bridge with a very numerous retinue, accom- 
panied by Jews and Mohammedans, and inquired into the rea- 
son of those proceedings. Upon being told what we have 
related, he declared it to be derogatory to the honour of 
Daniel, and commanded that the distance between the two 
banks should be exactly measured, that Daniel's coffin should 
be deposited in another coffin, made of glass, and that it 
should be suspended from the centre of the bridge by chains 
of iron. A place of public worship was erected on the spot, 
open to every one who desired to say his prayers, whether he 
be Jew or Gentile; and the coffin of Daniel is suspended 
from the bridge unto this very day. The king commanded 
that, in honour of Daniel, nobody should be allowed to fish in 
the river one mile on each side of the coffin. 

It is three days hence to Rudbar, which contains twenty 
thousand Jews, among whom are many scholars and rich men, 
but they generally live under great oppression. Two days 
hence bring us to the river Holwan, near which you find the 
abodes of about four thousand Jews. Four days to the dis- 
trict of Mulehet*, possessed by a sect who do not believe in 
the tenets of Mohammed, but live on the summit of high moun- 
tains, and pay obedience to the commands of the Old Man in 
the country of the Assassins. Four congregations of Jews dwell 
among them, and combine with them in their wars. They 
do not acknowledge the authority of the kings of Persia, but 
live on their mountains, whence they occasionally descend to 
make booty and to take spoil, with which they retire to their 
mountain fortresses, beyond the reach of their assailants. 

* Benjamin's account of the Assassins, and their residence at Mulehet, 
coincides very closely with that given by Marco Polo. It has been supposed 
that the sect of the Assassins originated in this district of Persia. 

A.D. 11G5.1 AMAKIA — DAVID EL-ROY. 107 

Some of the Jews who live in this country are excellent 
scholars, and all acknowledge the authority of the prince of 
the captivity, who resides at Bagdad in Babylonia. 

Five days from hence is Amaria, which contains five-and- 
twenty thousand Jews. This congregation forms part of 
those who live in the mountains of Chaphton, and which 
amount t/) more than a hundred, extending to the frontiers of 
Media These Jews are descendants of those who were ori- 
ginally led into captivity by king Shalmaneser ; they speak the 
Syriac language, and among them are many excellent Tal- 
mudic scholars ; they are neighbours to those of the city of 
Amaria, which is situated within one day's journey of the 
empire of Persia, to the king of which they are tributary. 
This tribute is collected by a deputy, and amounts here, as 
well as in all Mohammedan countries, to one amiri of gold, 
equal to one golden maravedi and one-third, for each male in- 
habitant of the age of fifteen and upwards. 

Ten years ago ^ there rose a man of the name of David 
El-Roy, of the city of Amaria, who had studied under the 
prince of the captivity, Chisdai, and under Eli, the president 
of the college of Geon Jacob in the city of Bagdad, and who 
became an excellent scholar, being well versed in the Mosaic 
law, in the decisions of the rabbins, and in the Talmud ; un- 
derstanding also the profane sciences, the language and the 
writings of the Mohammedans, and the scriptures of the ma- 
gicians and enchanters. He made up his mind to rise in 
rebellion against the king of Persia, to unite and collect the 
Jews who live in the mountains of Chaphton, and with them to 
engage in war with all Gentiles, making the conquest of Je- 
rusalem his final object. He gave signs to the Jews by false 
miracles, and assured them, " the Lord has sent me to conquer 
Jerusalem, and to deliver you from the yoke of the Gentiles." 
Some of the Jews did believe in him, and called him Messiah. 
When the king of Persia became acquainted with these circum- 
stances, he sent and summoned David into his presence. The 
latter went without fear, and when brought before the court 
lie was asked, "Art thou the king of the Jews?" to which 

^ That is, probably, in A.D. 1155 ; for 1165 appears to be about the year 
in which Benjamin of Tudela visited Persia. The history of David El- Roy, 
and the scene of his imposture, have been illustrated by Major Rawlinson in a 
memoir communicated to the Greographical Society of London, and printed in 
its Transactions. 

108 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [A.D. 1165. 

he made answer and said, *' I am." Upon this the king im- 
mediately commanded that he should be secured and put into 
the prison where the captives are kept who are imprisoned 
for life, situated in the city of Dabaristan, on the banks of 
the Kizil Ozein, which is a broad river. After a lapse of 
three days, when the king sat in council to take the advice of 
his nobles and officers respecting the Jews who had rebelled 
against his authority, David appeared among them, having 
liberated himself from prison without human aid. When the 
king beheld him he inquired, " Who has brought thee hither, 
or who has set thee at liberty?" To which David made an- 
sw^er, "My ow^n wisdom and subtil ity ; for verily I fear neither 
thee nor thy servants." The king immediately commanded 
that he should be seized, but his servants answered and said, 
*' We see him not, and are aware of his presence only by 
hearing the sound of his voice." The king was very much 
astonished at David's exceeding subtility, who thus ad- 
dressed him: "I now go my ow^n way;" and he went 
out, followed by the king and all his nobles and servants to 
the banks of the river, where he took his shawl, spread it 
upon the water, and crossed it thereupon. At that moment 
he became visible, and all the servants of the king saw him 
cross the river on his shawl. He was pursued by them in 
boats, but without success, and they all confessed that no 
magician upon earth could equal him. He that very day tra- 
velled to Amaria, a distance of ten days' journey, by the help 
of the Shem Hamphorash*, and related to the astonished 
Jews all that had happened to him. The king of Persia after- 
wards sent to the Emir-el-Mumenin, the khalif of Bagdad, 
principal of the Mohammedans, to solicit the influence of the 
prince of the captivity, and of the presidents of the colleges, 
in order to check the proceedings of David El-Roy, and 
threatening to put to death all Jews who inhabited his empire. 
The congregations of Persia were very severely dealt with 
about that time, and sent letters to the prince of the cap- 
tivity and the presidents of the colleges at Bagdad to the fol- 
lowing purpose: " Why will you allow us to die, and all the 
congregations of this empire ? Restrain the deeds of this man, 

* Shem Hamphorash, literally, the explained name, the letters of the word 
Jehovah in their full explanation, a mystery known but to very few, and by 
which it is believed wonders may be executed. The wonders performed by 
Jesus are ascribed in the Talmud to his knowledge of this mystery. 


and prevent thereby the shedding of innocent blood." The 
prince of the captivity and the president of the colleges here- 
upon addressed David in letters which run thus : " Be it 
known unto thee that the time of our redemption has not yet 
arrived, and that we have not yet seen the signs by which it 
is to manifest itself, and that by strength no man shall pre- 
vail. We therefore command thee to discontinue the course 
thou hast adopted, on pain of being excommunicated from all 
Israel." Copies of these letters were sent to Sakhai, the 
prince of the Jews in Mosul, and to R. Joseph the astronomer, 
who is called Borhan-al-Fulkh, and also resides there, with 
the request to forward them to David El-Roy. The last men- 
tioned prince and the astronomer added letters of their own, 
in which they advised and exhorted him ; but he nevertheless 
continued in his criminal career. This he carried on until a 
certain prince of the name of Sin-el-Din, a vassal of the king 
of Persia, and a Turk by birth, cut it short by sending for 
the father-in-law of David El-Roy, to whom he offered ten 
thousand florins if he would secretly kill David El-Roy. This 
agreement being concluded, he went to David's house while 
he slept, and killed him on his bed, thus destroying his plans 
and evil designs. Notwithstanding this, the wrath of the 
king of Persia still continued against the Jews who lived in 
the mountains and in his country, who in their turn craved 
the influence of the prince of the captivity with the king of 
Persia. Their petitions and humble prayers were supported 
by a present of one hundred talents of gold, in consideration 
of which the anger of the king of Persia was subdued, and 
the land was tranquillized. 

From that mountain to Hamadan^- is a journey often days ; 
this was the metropolis of Media, and contains about fifty 
thousand Jews. In front of one of the synagogues is the 
sepulchre of Mordecai and Esther. Four days from thence 
stands Dabaristanf, on the river Kizil Ozein; it contains 
about four thousand Jewish inhabitants. The city of Ispahan 
is distant seven days' journey; it is the metropolis of Persia, 
and residence of the king, being twelve miles in extent, and 
containing about fifteen thousand Jews. Sar Shalom, the rabbi 

* Hamadan, which is now in a state of ruin, is said to stand on or near 
the site of the ancient Ecbatana. The sepulchre of Mordecai and Esther is 
still shown there. 

f This town is conjectured to be Farahabad. 

110 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [A.D. 1165. 

of this city and of all other towns of the Persian empire, 
has been promoted to the dignity by the prince of the cap- 

Four days distant stands Shiraz, or Fars, a large city, 
containing about ten thousand Jews. It is seven days 
thence to Giva-'s a large city on the banks of the Oxus, con- 
taining about eight thousand Jews. Very extensive commerce 
is carried on in this place, to which traders of all countries 
and languages resort ; the country about it is very flat. Five 
days from thence, on the frontiers of the kingdom, stands 
Samarkand, a city of considerable magnitude, which contains 
about fifty thousand Jews. The prince rabbi Obadiah is the 
governor of the community, w^hich includes many wise and 
learned men. Four days from thence is the province of 
Tibet, in the forests of which country that beast is found which 
yields the musk. To the mountains of Khazvin, on the river 
Kizil Ozein, it is a journey of eight-and- twenty days. Jews of 
those parts, who live in Persia at present, report that the 
cities of Nisapour are inhabited by four tribes of Israel, viz., 
the tribe of Dan, that of Zebulon, and that of Naphthali, being 
part of the first exiles who w-ere carried into captivity by 
Shalmaneser, king of Ashur, as reported in Scripture f. He 
banished them to Halah and Habor, the mountains of Gozan, 
and the mountains of Media. The extent of their country is 
twenty days' journey, and they possess many towns and cities 
in the mountains. The river Kizil Ozein forms their boun- 
dary on one side, and they are subject to no nation, but are 
governed by their own prince, who bears the name of rabbi 
Joseph Amarkhela HaleviJ. Some of these Jews are excellent 
scholars; others carry on agriculture; and many of them 
are engaged in w^ar with the country of Cuth, by way of the 
desert. They are in alliance with the Caphar Tarac, or 
infidel Turks §, who adore the "wind and live in the desert. 

^ The city of Kkiva. 

+ 2 Kings, xvii. 6, and xviii. 11. And tlie king of Assyria did carry 
away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor, by the 
river Grozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 

X Of the tribe of Levi, the descendants of which are divided into Leviim 
and Khohanira, and are the only Jews who to this day claim the descent from 
a certain tribe, all others having mixed and become extinct in the course of 

§ These were the Ghuzes, a Turkish tribe who emigrated in the twelfth 
century from the country to the north of the Oxus. The events mentioned 


This is a people who eat no bread and drink no wine, but 
devour the meat raw and quite unprepared; they have no 
noses, but draw breath through two small holes, and eat all 
sorts of meat, whether from clean or unclean beasts. They 
are on very friendly terms with the Jews. 

About eighteen years ago this nation invaded Persia with 
a numerous host, and took the city of Rai, which they smote 
with the edge of the sword, carrying off the spoil to their 
deserts. Nothing similar had been seen before in the king- 
dom of Persia; and when the king of that country was made 
acquainted with this occurrence, his wrath was kindled, for, 
said he, " in the time of my predecessors no host like this 
ever issued from the desert; I will go and will extinguish 
their name from the earth." He raised the war-cry in the 
whole empire, collected all his troops, and made inquiry 
whether he could find any guide that would shov/ him the 
place where his enemies pitched their tents. A man was met 
with, who spoke thus to the king : "I will show thee the place 
of their retreat, for I am one of them." The king promised to 
enrich him if he would fulfil his promise, and show him the 
way. Upon inquiry how many provisions would be necessary 
for this long march through the desert, the spy answered : 
'* take with you bread and water for fifteen days, as you will 
find no provisions whatever before you reach their country." 
This advice being acted upon, they travelled fifteen days in 
the desert, and as they met with nothing that could serve for 
sustenance, they became extremely short of provisions, and 
men and beasts began to die. The king sent for the spy, and 
thus spoke to him : " What is become of thy promise to show 
us our enemy?" No other reply being made than '• I have 
mistaken my way," the head of the spy was cut off by the 
king's command. Orders were issued that every one who had 
any provisions left should share them with his companion ; 
but every thing eatable was consumed, even the beasts, and 
after travelling thirteen additional days in the desert, they at 
last reached the mountains of Khazvin, where the Jews dwell. 
They encamped in the gardens and orchards, and near the 
springs, which are in the vicinity of the river Kizil Ozein. It 

in the text seem to have occurred in 1153, when the Grhuzes revolted against 
the Persians, defeated the sultan, and plundered Mero and Nishabour. The 
sultan was made a prisoner, and only escaped and returned to his own country 

112 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. I 166. 

being the fruit season, they made free with it and destroyed 
much, but no living being came forward. They saw, how- 
ever, cities and many towers on the mountains, and the king 
commanded two of his servants to go and inquire the name 
of the nation which inhabited these mountains, and to cross 
over to them, either in boats or by swimming the river. 
They at last discovered a large bridge, fortified by towers, and 
secured by a gate which was locked, and on the other side of 
the bridge a considerable city. They shouted on their side of 
the bridge until at last a man came forth to inquire what they 
wanted or to whom they belonged. They could not, however, 
make themselves understood, but brought an interpreter who 
spoke both languages ; the questions being repeated, they 
replied : *' We are the servants of the king of Persia, and have 
come to inquire who you are and whose subjects." The 
answer was : " We are Jews, we acknowledge no king or prince 
of the Gentiles, but are subjects of a Jewish prince." Upon 
inquiries after the Ghuzi, the Caphar Tarac or infidel Turks, 
the Jews made answer : " Verily they are our allies, and 
whoever seeks to harm them we consider our own enemy." 
The two men returned and reported this to the king of Persia, 
who became much afraid, and particularly so when, after a 
lapse of two days, the Jews sent a herald to offer him battle. 
The king said, " I am not come to make war against you, but 
against the Caphar Tarac, or infidel Turks, who are my 
enemies ; and if you attack me I will certainly take my ven- 
geance, and will destroy all the Jews in my own kingdom, for 
I am well aware of your superiority over me in my present 
position ; but I entreat you to act kindly and not to harass me, 
but allow me to fight with the Caphar Tarac, my enemy, and 
also to sell me as much provision as I want for the main- 
tenance of my host." The Jews took counsel among them- 
selves, and determined to compl}^ with the request of the king 
of Persia for the sake of his Jewish subjects. The king and 
all his host were consequently admitted into the country of 
the Jews, and during his stay of fifteen days he was treated 
with most honourable distinction and respect. The Jews, 
however, meanwhile sent information to their allies, the 
Caphar Tarac, and made them acquainted with the above- 
mentioned circumstances ; these took possession of all the moun- 
tain passes, and assembled a considerable host, consisting of all 
the inhabitants of that desert and when the king of Persia 

A.D. 1166.J ISIAND OF KISH. 113 

went forth to give them battle, the Caphar Tarac conquered, 
killing and slaying so many of the Persians, that the king 
escaped to his country with only very few followers. One of 
the horsemen of the retinue of the king enticed a Jew of that 
country, named R. Moses, to go along with him ; he carried this 
man with him into Persia, and there made him a slave. Upon 
a certain day, when the king was the spectator of sports carried 
on for his amusement, and consisting principally of the exer- 
cise of handling the bow, among all competitors none excelled 
this R. Moses. The king thereupon inquired after this man 
by means of an interpreter, and was told what had happened 
to him, and how he had been forcibly carried away from his 
country by the horseman ; upon learning which the king not 
only immediately granted him his liberty, but gave him a 
dress of honour, composed of silk and fine linen, and many 
other presents. A proposal was also made to R. Moses, that 
if he would renounce his religion for that of the Persians, he 
should be treated with the utmost kindness, should gain con- 
siderable riches, and be made the king's steward ; but he re- 
fused, and said, " I cannot make up my mind to any such step." 
The king, however, placed him in the house of the rabbi Sar 
Shalom, of the Ispahan congregation, who in the course of 
time became his father-in-law. This very R. Moses related all 
these things unto me. 

From thence I returned to the country of Khuzistan, which 
lies on the Tigris. This river runs downward and falls into the 
Indian Sea (Persian Gulf), in the vicinity of an island called 
Kish. The extent of this island is six miles, and the inhabit- 
ants do not carry on any agriculture, for they have no rivers, nor 
more than one spring in the whole island, and are consequently 
obliged to drink rain water. It is, however, a considerable 
market, being the spot to which the Indian merchants and 
those of the islands bring their commodities. While the traders 
of Mesopotamia, Yemen, and Persia import all silk and pur- 
ple cloths, flax, cotton, hemp, mash ^^, wheat, barley, millet, 
rye, and all other sorts of comestibles and pulse, which articles 
form objects of exchange, those from India import great 
quantities of spices, and the inhabitants of the island live by 
what they gain in their capacity of brokers to both parties. 
The island contains about five hundred Jews. It is ten days 

* A sort of pea. See Lee's Ibn-Batuta, p. 106. 


114 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [A.D. 1166. 

passage by sea to El-Katif, a city with about five thousand 
Israelites. In this vicinity the pearls are found : about the 
twenty -fourth of the month of Nisan -^ large drops of rain are 
observed upon the surface of the water, which are swallowed 
by the reptiles, which thereupon close their shells and fall to 
the bottom of the sea; about the middle of the month of 
Thishri f people dive with the assistance of ropes, collect these 
reptiles from the bottom, and bring them up, after which they 
are opened and the pearls taken out. 

Seven days from thence is Chulam J, on the confines of the 
country of the sun-worshippers, who are descendants of Kush §, 
are addicted to astrology, and are all black. This nation is 
very trustworthy in matters of trade ; and whenever foreign 
merchants enter their port, three secretaries of the king im- 
mediately repair on board their vessels, write down their 
names, and report them to him. The king thereupon grants 
them security for their property, which they may even leave 
in the open fields without any guard. One of the king's offi- 
cers sits in the market, and receives goods that may have 
been found any where, and which he returns to those appli- 
cants who can minutely describe them. This custom is ob- 
served in the whole empire of the king. From Easter to new 
year |j, during the whole of the summer, the heat is extreme. 
From the third hour of the day ^ people shut themselves up in 
their houses until the evening, at which time every body goes 
out. The streets and markets are lighted up, and the in- 
habitants employ all the night upon their business, which 
they are prevented from doing in the daytime by the ex- 
cessive heat. 

Pepper grows in this country ; the trees which bear this 
fruit are planted in the fields, which surround the towns, and 
every one knows his plantation. The trees are small, and 
the pepper is originally white, but when they collect it they 
put it into basons and pour hot water upon it ; it is then ex- 
posed to the heat of the sun, and dried, in order to make it 

* In April. 
+ In October. 

J Chulam, the Koulam of Marco Polo and Ibn-Batuta, was an important 
place on the coast of Malabar, but is much reduced in modem times. 
§ Negroes. 

II i. e. From April to October. 
^ Nine o' clock in the morning. 


hard and more substantial, in the course of which process it 
becomes of a black colour. Cinnamon, ginger, and many 
other kinds of spices also grow in this country. The inhabit- 
ants do not bury their dead, but embalm them with certain 
spices, put them upon stools, and cover them with cloths, 
every family keeping apart. The flesh dries upon the bones ; 
and as these corpses resemble living beings, every body re- 
cognises his parents and all the members of his family for 
many years to come. These people worship the sun ^. About 
half a mile from every town they have large places of worship, 
and every morning they run towards the rising sun ; every 
place of worship contains a representation of that luminary, 
so constructed by enchantment that upon the rising of the sun. 
it turns round with a great noise, at which moment both men 
and women take up their censors and bum incense in honour 
of this their deity. "This their way is their folly." f All 
the cities and countries inhabited by these people contain only 
about one hundred Jews, who are of black colour, as well as 
the other inhabitants. The Jews are good men, observers of 
the law, and possess the Pentateuch, the prophets, and some 
little knowledge of the Talmud and its decisions. 

The island of Khandy I is distant twenty two days' journey. 
The inhabitants are fire worshippers called Druzes, and 
twenty three thousand Jews live among them. These Druzes 

* Mr. Asker observes, upon this passage, ^^ Our author states the ancient 
inhabitants of Chulam to be fire worshippers. Edrisi, however, (i. 176,) l 
says of the king, 'he adores the idol of Boudha,' and Ibn-Batuta reports him 
to be ' an infidel.' Although the latter appellation was applied by the Mo- 
hammedans to the fire worshippers, we have no sufficient proof to show that 
Edrisi's information is wrong, or that the majority of the population adored 
the sun as a deity. There is no doubt, however, that Malabar became the 
asylum of this ancient sect after it had been vanquished by the Mohammedans, 
and had been forced by persecution, not only to seek refuge in the moun- 
tainous and less accessible parts of Persia (Kerman and Herat), but to toil 
on to distant regions. They found a resting place beyond the Indus, which 
they crossed in fear of their unrelenting pursuers ; and here we still find 
their descendants, the Parsees, who form 'a numtTous and highly respectable 
class of the population.' Yery able papers on the history, religion, and wor- 
ship of the Guebres, will be found in vols. i. and iii. of Ouseley's ' Travels/ 
and in Ritter's ' Erdkunde,' v. 615." 

t Psalms, xlix. 14. 

t The modern Ceylon. Benjamin appears to call the inhabitants Druzes 
because he had been told that, like the Druzes of Syria, they believed in the 
metempsychosis. We learn from the Arabian geographer, Edrisi, that there 
was a large population of Jews in Ceylon at this time. 

I 3 


have priests everywhere in the houses consecrated to their 
idols, and these priests are expert necromancers, the like of 
whom are to be met with nowhere. In front of the altar 
of their house of prayer is a deep ditch, in which a large fire 
is continually kept burning ; this they call Elahuta, Deity. 
They pass their children through it, and into this ditch they 
also throw their dead. Some of the great of this country take 
a vow to burn themselves alive; and if any such devotee 
declares to his children and kindred his intention to do so, 
they all applaud him and say, " Happy shalt thou be, and 
it shall be well with thee." When the appointed day ar- 
rives, they prepare a sumptuous feast, place the devotee upon 
his horse, if he be rich, or lead him on foot, if he be poor, to 
the brink of the ditch. He then throws himself into the fire, 
and all his kindred manifest their joy by the playing of instru- 
ments until he is entirely consumed. Within three days of 
this ceremony two of the principal priests repair to his house, 
and thus address his children: *' Prepare the house, for to- 
day you will be visited by your father, who will manifest his 
wishes unto you." Witnesses are selected among the inhabit- 
ants of the town, and lo ! the devil appears in the image of 
the dead. The wife and children inquire after his state in 
the other world, and he answers : "I have met my com- 
panions, but they will not admit me into their company, 
before I have discharged my debts to my friends and neigh- 
bours ; " he then makes a will, divides his goods among his 
children, and commands them to discharge all debts he owes 
and to receive what people owe him ; this will is written down 
by the witnesses ... ^' to go his way, and he is not seen any 
more. In consequence of this falsehood and deceit, which the 
priests pass off by magic, they retain a strong hold upon the 
people, and make them believe that their equal is not to be 
met with upon earth. 

From hence the passage to China f is effected in forty 
days. This country lies eastward, and some say that the star 
Orion predominates in the sea which bounds it, and which is 
called the Sea of Nikpha. Sometimes this sea is so stormy 
that no mariner can conduct his vessel ; and whenever a storm 
throws a ship into this sea, it is impossible to govern it ; the 

* A blank occurs here in the two early editions. 

-f Our author is the first European who mentions China by this name* 


crew and the passengers consume their proyisions, and then 
die miserably. Many vessels have been lost in this way ; 
but people have learned how to save themselves from this 
fate by the following contrivance : they take bullocks' hides 
along with them, and whenever this storm arises and throws 
them into the Sea of Nikpha, they sow themselves up in the 
hides, taking care to have a knife in their hand, and being 
secured against the sea-water, they throw themselves into the 
ocean ; here they are soon perceived by a large eagle called a 
griffin, which takes them for cattle, darts down, seizes them 
in his gripe, and carries them upon dry land, where he de- 
posits his burden on a hill or in a dale, there to consume his 
prey. The man, however, now makes use of his knife to kill 
the bird, creeps forth from the hide, and tries to reach an 
inhabited country. Many people have been saved by this 

Gingaleh is but three days distant by land, whereas it re- 
quires a journey of fifteen days to reach it by sea; this place 
contains about one thousand Israelites. To Khulan, seven 
days by sea ; no Jews live there. Twelve days from thence 
to Sebid, which contains but few Jews. Eight days from 
thence is Middle India*, which is called Aden, and in Scrip- 
ture Eden in Thelasarf. This country is very mountainous, 
and contains many independent Jews, who are not subject to 
the power of the Gentiles, but possess cities and fortresses on 
the summits of the mountains, from whence they descend into 
the country of Maatum, with which they are at war. Maatum, 
also called Nubia, is a Christian kingdom, and the inhabitants 
are called Nubians. The Jews generally take spoil and plunder 
from them, which they carry into their mountain fastnesses, 
the possession of which makes them almost unconquerable. 
Many of the Jews of Aden visit Egypt and Persia. 

To the country of Assuan twenty days' journey, through the 
desert of Sheba, on the banks of the Nile (Pison), which 
comes down here from the country of the blacks. This 
country is governed by a king, whom they call Sultan-al- 
Habash, and some of the inhabitants resemble beasts in every 
respect. They eat the herbs which grow on the banks of the 
Nile, go naked in the fields, and have no notions like other 
men; for instance, they cohabit with their own sisters and 

* Literally, continental India. f 2 Kings, xix. 12. 

118 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [A.D. 1168. 

with any body they find. The country is excessively hot ; and 
-when the people of Assuan invade their country, they carry 
•wheat, raisins, and figs, which they throw out like bait, thereby 
alluring the natives. These are made captive, and sold in 
Egypt and in the adjoining countries, where they are known 
as black slaves, being the descendants of Ham. 

From Assuan to Chaluah it is twelve days. This place 
contains about three hundred Jews, and is the starting point 
of the caravans which traverse the desert Al-Zahara in fifty 
days on their way to Zavila, the Havilah of Scripture ^, which 
is in the country of Ganahf. This desert contains moun- 
tains of sand ; and, whenever a storm arises, the caravans are 
exposed to the imminent danger of being buried alive by the 
sand ; those which escape, however, carry iron, copper, dif- 
ferent sorts of fruits, pulse, and salt. Gold and precious 
stones are brought from thence in exchange. This country 
lies westward of Kush, or Abyssinia. Thirteen days' journey 
from Chaluah stands Kuts, a city on the frontiers of Egypt, 
containing tliirty thousand Jewish inhabitants. To Fayuhm 
five days ; this is Pithom | ; it contains about twenty Jews, and 
has some remains of the buildings erected by our forefathers 
even to this day. Four days from thence brings us to Mizraim, 
or Memphis, commonly called Old Cairo. This large city stands 
on the banks of the Nile, called Al-Nil, and contains about 
two thousand Jews. Here are two synagogues, one of the 
congregation of Palestine, called the Syrian, the other of the 
Babylonian Jews (or those of Irac). They follow different 
customs regarding the division of the Pentateuch into Para- 
shioth and Sedarim §. The Babylonians read one Parasha 
every week, as is the custom throughout Spain, and finish the 
whole of the Pentateuch every year, v^^hereas the Syrians have 

* Gen. X. 7 ; 1 Chron. i. 9. 

t Chalua or Aloiia, the Ghalua of Edrisi (i. 33), is mentioned by the 
Arabian writers as the starting point for the caravans which traversed the 
desert of Saharah, and carried on the trade with northern Africa. Zavila, 
2uila, Zuela of our maps, Zavila of Edrisi (i. 258-9), was remarkable for 
the splendour of its bazaars and buildings, as well as for its beautiful streets 
and thoroughfares. From Zuila the caravans proceeded almost due south to 
Ganah, in the interior of Africa. 

t Exod. i. 11. 

§ The Pentateuch is divided into fifty-four Parashioth, of seven portions 
each ; and the custom of the Babylonians, as described in the text, is prac- 
tised at present almost universally. 

A.D. 1168.] EGYPT. 119 

the custom of dividing every Parasha into three Sedarim, and 
concluding the lecture of the whole once in three years. 
They keep, however, the long-estahlished custom of assembling 
l)oth congregations to perform public service together, as well 
on the day of the joy of the law as on that of the dispensation 
of the law*. Eabbi Nathaniel, the lord of lords, is the pre- 
sident of the Jewish university, and, in his capacity of primate 
of all the Jewish congregations of Egypt, exercises the right 
of electing Rabanim and ministers. He is one of the officers 
of the great king, who resides in the fortress of Zoan in the 
city of Mizraim, which is the metropolis of all those Ara- 
bians who obey the Emir-al-Mumenin f of the sect of All 
ben Abitaleb. All the inhabitants of his country are called 
rebels, because they rebelled against the Emir-al-Mumenin 
al-Abassi who resides at Bagdad, and there is continual hatred 
between them. 

The residence of Zoan was selected for its convenience. 
The prince appears in public twice every year ; once at the 
time of their great holiday, end the second time at the moment 
of the inundation of the Nile. Zoan is inclosed by a wall, 
whereas Mizraim is open, and the Nile washes one portion 
of it. The city is large, containing many markets and bazaars, 
and very wealthy Jewish inhabitants. 

Eain, frost, and snow are almost unknown here, the climate 
being very warm. The river overflows once every year, in 
the month of Elulj, and, inundating the whole country, irri- 
gates it to the extent of fifteen days' journey. The water 
remains standing on the land during that and the following 
month, whereby it is moistened and made fit for agriculture. 
A marble pillar, constructed with great skill, has been erected 
in front of an island; twelve yards of this pillar protrude 
above the level of the river ; and whenever the water rises to 
a height sufficient to cover the pillar, people know that it has 
inundated the whole land of Egypt to the extent of fifteen 

* The former is celebrated on the last day of the feast of tabernacles, 
(Deut. xvi. 13 — 15,) the latter with the feast of weeks (ibid. 9). 

t Benjamin of Tudela does not mention the name of the Fatimite khalif 
of Egypt who reigned at the time of his visit ; but as that dynasty was 
overthrown in 1171, and as the authority of the last khalif of that family 
had previously been annihilated by the conquests of the armies of Noureddin, 
to which Benjamin makes no allusion, it is probable that his visit to Egypt 
may be placed as early as 1168 or 1169. 

J August. 

120 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a D, 1168. 

days' journey, whereas if one-lialf only of the pillar be covered, 
it shows that one-half of the country is yet dry. A certain 
officer measures the rise of the river every day, and makes 
proclamation in Zoan and in Mizraim in these words : 
*' Praise God, for the river has risen so and so much ! " The 
measurement and the proclamation is repeated every day. 
Whenever the water submerges the whole pillar, it produces 
great plenty in the whole land of Egypt. The river rises by 
degrees until the whole country is inundated to the extent of 
fifteen days' journey. The proprietors of land cause ditches 
to be dug along their fields, into which the fishes are swept 
with the rising waters; and when the river retires into its 
bed, the fish remaining in the trenches are collected by the 
proprietors and used for food. Others sell them to merchants, 
by whom they are cured, and sold in this state all over the 
country. The fat of these fishes, with which they abound, is 
used by the rich of the land instead of oil, and they light their 
lamps therewith. Those who eat of the fish, and drink Nile 
water after it, need not fear any bad consequences, the w^ater 
being an excellent preventive. Persons who inquire the 
reason of the rise of the Nile are told by the Egyptians that 
it is caused by the heavy rains which fall in the country of 
Abyssinia, the Havilah of Scripture, which is elevated above 
the level of Egypt. This forces the river out of its bed, and 
inundates the whole country. Whenever the overflowing of 
the Nile is suspended, they can neither sow nor reap, " and 
the famine is sore in the land." ^-5^ The time for sowing in 
Egypt is the month of Marcheshvan f , after the river has 
retired into its usual bed; in Adar| they cut barley, and in 
Nissan § the wheat. In the same month the following fruits 
are ripe : a kind of acid plum called cherry, nuts, cucumbers, 
gourds, St. John's bread ||, beans, spelt-corn, chick-pease, as 
well as all sorts of herbs, such as purslam, asparagus (or 
fennel), grapes, lettuce, coriander, succory, cabbage, and wine. 
Upon the whole the countiy abounds with good things. The 
gardens and orchards are watered partly from wells and partly 
from the Nile. 

* A phrase taken from Gen. xliii. 1. 

+ November. t March. § April. 

II *' Carob-Siliqua in Latin ; Caroube, or Carouge, French. This transla- 
tion is traditional among Jews, and it has been employed, althongh Abdol- 
latif does not mention this fruit as one indigenous in Egypt." — Asher. 


Above Mizraim the Nile is divided into four arms, one of 
which proceeds to Damietta, which is Caphtor of Scripture, 
and there falls into the sea ; a second flows towards Rashid 
(or Rosetta), which is near Alexandria, and there falls into the 
sea ; the third takes the direction of Ashmun, the large city 
on the frontier of Egypt. The banks of these four arms are 
lined on both sides with cities, towns, and villages ; and are 
enlivened by numerous travellers who journey both by river 
and by land. In fact, upon the whole earth there is no country 
so populous and well cultivated as Egypt, which is of ample 
territory and full of all sorts of good things. 

From New to Old Mizraim is a distance of two parasangs. 
The latter lies in ruins, but the sites of the walls and the 
houses may still be traced at this day, as also the granaries of 
Joseph, of which there is a large number. The pyramids, 
which are seen here, are constructed by magic ; and in no other 
country or other place is any thing equal to them. They are 
composed of stones and cement, and are very substantial. In 
the outskirts of the city is the very ancient synagogue of our 
great master Moses, upon whom be peace. An old and very 
learned man is the overseer and clerk of this place of public 
worship ; he is called Al- Sheikh Abunasar. Old Mizraim is 
three miles in extent. From thence to the land of Goshen, 
eight parasangs. It is called Belbeis, is a large city, and 
contains about three thousand Jewish inhabitants. Half a 
day to Iskiil Ain-al-Shems, the ancient Raamses, which is in 
ruins. Here are remains of the buildings erected by our fore- 
fathers, and tower-like buildings constructed of bricks. One 
day's journey to Al-Boutidg ; about two hundred Jews live 
here. Half a day to Sefita, which contains about two hundred 
Jews. To Damira, four parasangs ; this place contains about 
seven hundred Jews. Five days to Mahaleh, which contains 
about five hundred Israelites*. Two days from thence stands 
Alexandria, which Alexander the Macedonian, who built this 
extremely strong and handsome city, called after his own 
name. In the outskirts of the city was the school of Aristotle, 
the preceptor of Alexander. The building is still very hand- 
some and large, and is divided into many apartments by marble 
pillars. There are about twenty schools, to which people 

* It may be observed that Benjamin's object appears to have been only to 
mention those towns in Egypt which contained Jews, and he follows no 
direct course. 

1^^ BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [A.D. 1168. 

flocked from all parts of the world in order to study the 
Aristotelian philosophy. The city is built upon arches, which 
are hollow below. The streets are straight, and some of them 
are of such extent that the eye cannot overlook them at once ; 
that which runs from the Rosetta to the sea-gate is a full mile 
in length. The port of Alexandria is formed partly by a pier, 
which extends a mile into the sea. Here is also a high tower, 
called lighthouse, in Arabic, Minar of Alexandria, on the 
summit of which was placed a glass mirror. All vessels 
which approached with hostile intentions, from Greece and 
from the western side, could be observed at fifty days' distance 
by means of this glass mirror, and precautions were taken 
against them. Many years after the death of Alexander 
there arrived a Grecian vessel commanded by a man of the 
name of Theodores, who was extremely cunning. The 
Grecians were subject to the Egyptians at the time, and the 
above-named shipper brought a valuable present to the king 
of Egypt, consisting of silver, gold, and silk garments. He 
rode at anchor in view of the mirror, the customary station of 
all merchantmen who arrived, and the keeper of the light- 
house, as well as his servants, were invited every day by him, 
until they became very intimate and paid one another frequent 
visits. Upon a certain day the keeper and all his servants 
were invited to a sumptuous meal, and were plied so much 
with wine that both he and his servants became drunk and 
fell into a sound sleep. This opportunity was seized by the 
shipper and his crew to break the mirror, after which exploit 
they left the port the same night. From that time the 
Christians began to visit Alexandria with small and large 
vessels, and took the large island of Crete, as well as Cyprus, 
which are in possession of the Greeks unto this day ; and the 
Egyptians have not been able to withstand the Greeks ever 
since *. The lighthouse is still a mark to all seafaring men. 
It is observed at the distance of one hundred miles by day, 
and at night bears a light which serves as a guide to all 

The city is very mercantile, and affords an excellent market 

* This story is one version of a popular tradition wliich is mentioned by 
the Arabian writers ; and a story similar to it, though not applied to the 
Pharos of Alexandria, is found among the collections current in the west of 
Europe daring the middle ages, but no doubt brought from the east. See 
the old English poem of the Seven Sages. 


to all nations. People from all Christian kingdoms resort 
to Alexandria, from Valentia, Tuscany, Lombardy, Apulia, 
Amalfi, Sicilia, Rakuvia, Catalonia, Spain, Eoussillon, Ger- 
many, Saxony, Denmark, England, Flandres, Hainault, Nor- 
mandy, France, Poitou, Anjou, Burgundy, Mediana, Provence, 
Genoa, Pisa, Gascony, Arragon, and Navarre. From the west 
you meet Mohammedans from Andalusia, Algarve, Africa, and 
Arabia, as well as from the countries towards India, Savila, 
Abyssinia, Nubia, Yemen, Mesopotamia, and Syria, besides 
Greeks and Turks*. From India they import all sorts of 
spices, which are bought by Christian merchants. The city 
is full of bustle, and every nation has its own fonteccho (or 
hostelry) there. 

On the sea- shore is a marble sepulchre, upon which are 
depicted all sorts of birds and beasts, all in very ancient 
characters, which nobody can decipher ; but it is supposed 
that it is the tomb of a king of very ancient date, who reigned 
even before the flood. The length of the tomb is fifteen spans 
by six in breadth. 

Alexandria contains about three thousand Jews. 

From hence we reach Damietta, which is Caphtorf, in two 
days; this place contains about two hundred Jews. Half a 
day from thence to Sunbat, the inhabitants of which sow flax 
and weave fine linen, which forms a very considerable article 
of exportation. Four days to Ailah, which is Elim of Scrip- 
ture ; it belongs to the Bedouin Arabs. Two days to Re- 
phidim, which is inhabited by Arabians, and contains no Jews. 
One day to Mount Sinai, on the summit of which the Syrian 
monks possess a place of worship. At the base of the moun- 
tain is a large village ; the inhabitants, who speak the Chaldean 
language, call it Tour Sinai. The mountain is small, is in 
possession of the Egyptians, and is distant five days from 
Mizraim. The Red Sea is one day's journey from Mount 
Sinai ; this sea is an arm of the Indian Sea. 

Back to Damietta, from whence by sea to Tennis, the 
Chanes of Scripture, an island of the sea, containing about 

* Mr. A slier has first given a clear and intelligible translation of the 
names of the different countries who traded to Alexandria ; and he observes 
that, in drawing it up, Benjamin probably follows some list of the fontecchi, 
or hostelries of the merchants of different nations, made for the use of captains 
arriving there. 

i* This appears to be an error of our traveller. 

124 BENJAMIN OF TUDELA. [a.D. 1169, 

forty Israelites ; here is the boundary of the empire of Egypt. 
From thence we go, in twenty days, by sea to Messina, 
on the coast of the island of Sicily, situated on the strait 
called Lunir, an arm of the sea which divides Calabria from 
Sicily. This city contains about two hundred Jews, and is 
beautifully situated in a country abounding with gardens and 
orchards, and full of good things. Most of the pilgrims who 
embark for Jerusalem assemble here, because this city affords 
the best opportunity for a good passage. 

Two days from thence stands Palermo, a large city, two 
square miles in extent. It contains the extensive palace 
of king William ^s and is inhabited by about fifteen hundred 
Jews and many Christians and Mohammedans. The country 
is rich in wells and springs, grows wheat and barley, and is 
covered with gardens and orchards ; it is, in fact, the best in 
the whole island of Sicily. This city is the seat of the vice- 
roy, whose palace is called Al-Hacina, and contains all sorts of 
fruit trees, as also a great spring, surrounded by a wall, and a 
reservoir called Al-Behira, in which abundance of fish are 
preserved. The Idng's vessels are ornamented mth silver 
and gold, and are ever ready for the amusement of himself and 
his women. There is also a large palace, the walls of which 
are richly ornamented with paintings and with gold and silver. 
The pavement is of marble and rich mosaic, representing all 
sorts of figures; in the whole country there is no building 
equal to this. 

The island begins at Messina, where many pilgrims meet, 
and extends to Catania, Syracuse, Masara, Pantaleone, and 
Trapani, being six days in circumference. Near Trapani is 
found the stone called coral, in Arabic, al-murganf. From 

* William II. king of Sicily, who reigned from 1166 to 1189. On his 
accession he was only twelve years of age ; and during his minority Stephen, 
archbishop of Palermo, governed Sicily as chancellor under the queen 
dowager. It is to him that Benjamin alludes under the title of viceroy; in 
1169 the viceroy was driven from Sicily by a revolt of the inhabitants of 
Palermo, and it was therefore probably early in that year that Benjamin was 
in the island. 

+ Coral (Arabic, bessed ; Persian, merjan). The Sicilian coral is mentioned 
by several old writers. The produce of the fishery at Messina is stated by 
Spallanzani (" Travels in the Two Sicilies," vol. iv. p. 308, &c.) to amount to 
twelve quintals of 250 lbs. each. Edrisi mentions the fishery of this produc- 
tion to have been carried on by the Sicilians, and states that it was inferior 
to the species found on the African coast. 

A.D. 1169-1173.] GERMANY. 126 

thence you cross over and reach Home m three days ; from 
Rome by land in five days to Lucca, from whence you get in 
twelve days to Bardin, by Mount Maurienne, and over the 
passes of Italy. 

Here are the confines of Germany, a country full of hills 
and mountains. The Jewish congregations of Germany 
inhabit the banks of the great river Rhine, from Cologne, 
where the empire commences, unto Cassanburg, the frontier 
of Germany, which is fifteen days' journey, and is called 
Ashkenas by the Jews. These are the cities of Germany 
which contain congregations of Israelites, all situated on the 
river Moselle — Coblence, Andernach, Kaub, Kartania, Bingen, 
Worms, and Mistran. In fact, the Jews are dispersed over 
all countries, and whoever hinders Israel from being collected, 
shall never see any good sign, and shall not live with Israel. 
And at the time which the Lord has appointed to be a limit 
of our captivity and to exalt the horn of his anointed, every- 
one shall come forth and shall say, " I will lead the Jews 
and I will assemble them." 

These cities contain many eminent scholars; the congre- 
gations are on the best terms with one another, and are 
friendly towards strangers. Whenever a traveller visits them 
they are rejoiced thereat and hospitably receive him. They 
are full of hopes, and say — " Be of good spirit, dear brethren, 
for the salvation of the Lord will be quick, like. the t^^^Lnkling 
of an eye; and, indeed, were it not that we had doubted 
hitherto that the end of our captivity had not yet arrived, we 
should have assembled long ago ; but this is impossible before 
the time of song arrive, and the sound of the cooing turtle 
gives warning*; then will the message arrive, and we will 
say, The name of the Lord be exalted !"t They send letters 
to one another, by which they exhort to hold firm in the 
Mosaic law. Those that spend their time as mourners of the 
downfall of Sion and the destruction of Jerusalem, are always 
dressed in black clothes, and pray for mercy before the Lord, 
for the sake of their brethren. 

Beside the cities which we have already mentioned as being 
in Germany, there are, further, Astransburg, Duidisburg, 
Mantern, Pisingas, Bamberg, Zor, and Regensburg, on the 
confines of the empire ; all these cities contain many rich and 

* Solom. Song, ii. 12, -f Psalms, xxxv. 27. 


learned Jews. Further on is the country of Bohemia, called 
Prague. Here begins Sclavonia, called by the Jews who 
inhabit it Khenaan, because the inhabitants sell their children 
to all nations, which is also applicable to the people of Russia. 
The latter country is very extensive, reaching from the gates 
of Prague to those of Kiev, a large city on the confines of the 
empire. The country is very mountainous and full of forests ; 
in the latter the beasts called vaiverges -^ are met, which yield 
the sable fur or ermine. In winter the cold is so intense that 
nobody ventures to leave his house. So far the kingdom of 

The kingdom of France, called by the Jews Tsarphat, 
reaches from the town of Alsodo to Paris, the metropolis, and 
is six days in extent. This city, situated on the river Seine, 
belongs to king Louis f, and contains many learned men, the 
equal of which are to be met with at present nowhere upon 
earth : they employ all their time upon the study of the law, 
are hospitable to all travellers, and on friendly terms with 
all their Jewish brethren. 

May the Lord in his mercy be full of compassion towards 
them and us, and may he fulfil towards both the words of his 
Holy Scripture (Deut. xxx. 8), " Then the Lord thy God 
will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and 
will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the 
Lord thy God hath scattered thee." — Amen, Amen, Amen. 

* Vaiverges, Polish wiewiorka, the white squirrel, a quadruped, the skins 
of which were considered to be of great value. 

i* Louis le Jeune, who reigned from 1137 to 1185. 


A.D. 1322—1356. 

Forasmuch as the land beyond the sea, that is to say, the 
Holy Land, which men call the land of promise or of behest, 
passing all other lands, is the most worthy land, most excel- 
lent, and lady and sovereign of all other lands, and is blessed 
and hallowed with the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus 
Christ ; in the which land it pleased him to take flesh and 
blood of the Virgin Mary, to environ that holy land with his 
blessed feet ; and there he would of his blessedness shadow 
him in the said blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, and become 
man, and work many miracles, and preach and teach the faith 
and the law of Christian men unto his children ; and there 
it pleased him to suffer many reprovings and scorns for us ; 
and he that was king of heaven, of air, of earth, of sea, and 
of all things that are contained in them, would only be called 
king of that land, when he said, " Rex sum Judeorum," that is 
to say, I am king of the Jews ; and that land he chose before 
all other lands, as the best and most worthy land, and the most 
virtuous land of all the world ; for it is the heart and the 
middle of all the world ; by witness of the philosopher, who 
saith thus " Virtus rerum in medio consistit :" that is to say. 
The virtue of things is in the middle ; and in that land he 
would lead his life, and suffer passion and death from the 
Jews for us, to redeem and deliver us from the pains of 
hell and from death without end, which was ordained for ns 
for the sin of our first father Adam, and for our own sins also ; 
for, as for himself, he had deserved no evil : for he thought 
never evil nor did evil, and he that was king of glory and 
of joy might best in that place suffer death, because he 
chose in that land, rather than in any other, to suffer his 
passion and his death : for he that will publish any thing to 
make it openly known, he will cause it to be cried and pro- 
claimed in the middle place of a town ; so that the thing that 
is proclaimed and pronounced may equally reach to all parts : 
right so, he that was creator of all the world would suffer for 
us at Jerusalem, that is the middle of the world, to the end and 
intent that his passion and his death, which was published 


there, miglit be known equally to all parts of the world. See, 
now, how dearly he bought man, that he made after his own 
image, and how dearly he redeemed us for the great love that 
he had to us, and we never deserved it of him. For more 
precious goods or greater ransom might he not put for us, 
than his blessed body, his precious blood, and his holy life, 
which he enthralled for us ; and he offered all for us, that never 
did sin. Oh ! dear God ! what love had he to us his subjects, 
when he that never trespassed would for trespassers suffer 
death ! Right well ought we to love and worship, to dread 
and serve such a Lord, and to worship and praise such a holy 
land, that brought forth such fruit, through which every man 
is saved, unless it be his own fault. Well may that land be 
called delectable and a fruitful land, that was made moist 
with the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ ; which is 
the same land that our Lord promised us in heritage. And 
in that land he would die, as seised ^ to leave it to us, his 
children. Wherefore every good Christian man, that is of 
power, and hath whereof, should labour with all his strength 
to conquer our right heritage, and drive out all the unbe- 
lieving men. For we are called Christian men, after Christ 
our father. And if we be right children of Christ, we ought 
to claim the heritage that our father left us, and take it out 
of heathen men's hands. But now pride, covetousness, and 
envy have so inflamed the hearts of w^orldly lords, that they 
are busier to disinherit their neighbours than to claim or 
conquer their right heritage aforesaid. And the common 
people, that would put their bodies and their goods to con- 
quer our heritage, may not do it without the lords. For an 
assembly of people without a chieftain, or a chief lord, is as 
a flock of sheep without a shepherd ; the which departeth and 
disperseth, and know never whither to go. But would God, that 
the temporal lords and all worldly lords were at good accord, 
and with the common people would take this holy voyage over 
the sea! Then I believe confidently, that, within a little time, 
our right heritage aforesaid should be recovered and put in 
the hands of the right heirs of Jesus Christ. 

And forasmuch as it is long time past that there w^as no 
general passage or voyage over the sea, and many men de- 
siring to hear speak of the Holy Land, and have thereof great 

* An allusion to the legal forms of conveying and bequeathing property in 
the middle ages. 

A.D. 1322.] THE PEOLOGUE. 129 

solace and comfort, I, John Maundeville, knight, albeit I be 
not worthy, who was born in England, in the town of Saint 
Albans, passed the sea in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 
1322, on the day of St. Michael; and hitherto have been 
a long time over the sea, and have seen and gone through 
many divers lands, and many provinces, and kingdoms, and 
isles, and have passed through Tartary, Persia, Ermony, 
(xirmenia) the Little and the Great ; through Lybia, Chaldea, 
and a great part of Ethiopia ; through x\mazonia, India the 
Less, and the Greater, a great part ; and throughout many other 
isles that are about India ; where dwell many divers folks, 
and of divers manners and laws, and of divers shapes of men. 
Of which lands and isles I shall speak more plainly hereafter. 
And I shall devise you some part of things that are there, 
when time shall be as it may best come to my mind ; and 
especially for them that will and are in purpose to visit the 
holy city of Jerusalem, and the holy places that are thereabout. 
And I shall tell the way that they shall hold thither ; for I 
have oftimes passed and ridden the way, with good company 
of many lords : God be thanked ! 

And ye shall understand that I have put this book out of 
Latin into French, and translated it again out of French into 
English, that every man of my nation may understand it; 
and that lords and knights and other noble and worthy men 
that know Latin but little, and have been beyond the sea, may 
know and understand, if I err from defect of memory, and 
may redress it and amend it. For things passed out of long 
time from a man's mind or from his sight turn soon into for- 
getting : because a man's mind may not be comprehended or 
withheld, on account of the frailty of mankind. 

Chaptek. I. 


In the name of God, glorious and Almighty. He that will pass 
over the sea to go to the city of Jerusalem may go many ways, 
both by sea and land, according to the country that he cometh 
from : many ways come to one end. But you must not ex- 
pect that I will tell you all the towns, and cities, and castles, 
that men shall go by ; for then should I make too long a tale : 
but only soine countries and the principal places that men 
shall go through to go the right way. First, if a man come 


130 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE, [a.D. 1322. 

from the west side of the world, as England, Ireland, Wales, 
Scotland, or Norway, he may, if he will, go through Almaine 
(Germany) and through the kingdom of Hungary, which borders 
on the land of Polaine (Poland), and to the land of Pannonia, 
and so to Silesia. And the king of Hungary is a great and 
mighty lord, and possesses great lordships and much land. 
For he holds the kingdom of Hungary, Sclavonia, and a great 
part of Comania and Bulgaria, which men call the land of 
Bougres, and the realm of Russia a great part, whereof he 
hath made a duchy, that extendeth unto the land of Nyflan, 
and borders on Prussia. And we go through the land of 
this lord, through a city that is called Cypron, and by the 
castle of Neaseborough, and by the evil town, which is situated 
towards the end of Hungary. And there men pass the river 
Danube, which is a very great river, and it goeth into 
Almaine, under the hills of Lombardy ; and it receives forty 
other rivers, and runs through Hungary and through Greece 
and through Thrace, and entereth into the sea, towards the 
east, so roughly and so sharply, that the water of the sea is 
fresh and keeps its sweetness twenty miles from shore. 

And after, men go to Belgrave, and enter the land of Bou- 
gres ; and there men pass a bridge of stone, which is upon the 
river Marrok. And men pass through the land of Pynce- 
martz, and come to Greece to the city of Nye, and to the city 
of Fynepape, and after to the city of Adrianople, and then to 
Constantinople, which was formerly called Byzantium, where 
the emperor of Greece usually dwells. And there is the 
fairest and noblest church in the world, that of St. Sophia. 
And before the church is the image of the emperor Justinian, 
covered with gold, and he sits crowned upon a horse ; and he 
formerly held a round apple of gold in his hand, but it is 
fallen down ; and they say there, that it is a token that the 
emperor hath lost a great part of his lands and lordships. 
For he was emperor of Romania and of Greece, of all Asia 
the Less, and of the land of Syria, of the land of Judea, in 
which is Jerusalem, and of the land of Egypt, of Persia, and 
of Arabia ; but he hath lost all but Greece ; and men would 
many times restore the apple to the hand of the image, but 
it will not hold it. This apple betokens the lordship which he 
had over all the world, which is round ; and the other hand he 
lifts up towards the east, in token to menace the misdoers. 
This image stands upon a pillar of marble at Constantinople. 

A.D. 1322.] THE THUE CROSS. 131 

Chapter II. 


At Constantinople is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
his coat without seams, and the sponge and the reed with 
which the Jews gave our Lord vinegar and gall on the cross ; 
and there is one of the nails with which Christ was nailed on 
the cross. And some men helieve that half the cross of our 
Lord is in Cyprus, in an abbey of monks called the Hill of 
the Holy Cross. But it is not so ; for the cross which is in 
Cyprus is that on which Dismas-^, the good thief, was crucified. 
But all men know not that, and it is an evil act ; because, for 
profit of the offering, they say that it is the cross of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. And you shall understand that the cross of 
our Lord was made of four kinds of trees, as is contained in 
this verse — 

" In cruce fit palma, cedms, cypressus, oliva." 
For the piece that went upright from the earth to the head 
was of cypress ; and the piece that went across, to which his 
hands were nailed, was of palm ; and the stock, that stood 
within the earth, in which was made the mortise, was of 
cedar ; and the tablet above his head, which was a foot and a 
half long, on which the title was written in Hebrew, Greek, 
and Latin, was of olive. And the Jews made the cross of 
these four kinds of trees, because they believed that our Lord 
Jesus Christ should have hanged on the cross as long as the 
cross might last ; and therefore they made the foot of the 
cross of cedar, because cedar may not rot in earth or water ; 
and they thought that it should have lasted long. And be- 
cause they believed that the body of Christ should have stunk, 
therefore they made the piece that went from the earth up- 
wards of cypress, for it is well smelling, so that the smell of 
his body should not grieve men that passed by. And the cross 
piece was of palm, because in the Old Testament it was 
ordained that when any one conquered, he should be crowned 
with palm ; and because they believed that they had the vic- 
tory of Christ Jesus, therefore made they the cross-piece of 

* Dismas and Jestes, or Jesmas, were, according to the vulgar legend, the 
names of the two thieves who were crucified at the same time with the 
Saviour, Dismas being the one who reproved his companion for his unbelief. 
Maundeville has introduced more of the popular superstitious and religious 
legends of the middle ages than the previous travellers. 

K 2 


palm. And the tablet of the title they made of olive, because 
olive betokens peace ; and the story of Noah witnesseth that 
when the dove brought the branch of olive, it betokened 
peace made between God and man ; and so the Jews expected 
to have peace when Christ was dead ; for they said that he 
made discord and strife amongst them. And you shall under- 
stand that our Lord was nailed on the cross in a recum- 
bent position, and therefore he suffered the more pain. And 
the Christians that dwell beyond the sea, in Greece, say that 
the tree of the cross that we call cypress was of that tree 
of which Adam ate the apple, and that they find written. 
And they say also, that their Scripture saith-''' that Adam was 
sick, and told his son Seth to go to the angel that kept Para- 
dise, to pray that he would send him oil of mercy to anoint 
his members with, that he might have health. And Seth 
went, but the angel would not let him come in, telling him 
that he might not have of the oil of mercy ; but he gave him 
three grains of the same tree of which his father ate the 
apple, and bade him, as soon as his father was dead, that he 
should put these three grains under his tongue, and bury him 
so: and he did. And of these three grains sprung a tree, as 
the angel said that it should, and bore a fruit, through which 
fruit Adam should be saved. And when Seth came again, 
he found his father near dead. And when he was dead, he 
did with the grains as the angel bade him ; of which sprung 
three trees, whereof the cross was made, that bare good fruit 
and blessed, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom 
Adam, and all that come of him, should be saved and de- 
livered from dread of death without end, unless it be by their 
own fault. The Jews had concealed this holy cross in the 
earth, under a rock of Mount Calvary ; and it lay there two 
hundred years and more, till the time of St. Helena, the 
mother of Constantino, emperor of Eome. She was the 
daughter of king Coel, born in Colchester, who was king of 
England, which was then called Britain the Greater; the 
emperor Cons tan tins took her to wife for her beauty, and had 
by her Constantino, who was afterwards emperor of Rome. 

And you shall understand that the cross of our Lord was 
eight cubits long, and the cross-piece was three cubits and a 

* See, on this popular legend, the editor's note on the " Chester Plays " (or 
Mysteries), vol. i. p. 239. It was derived from one of the apocryphal books 
of the eastern church. 

A.D. 1322.] THE CROWN OF THORNS. 133 

half in length. And one part of the crown of our Lord, 
wherewith he was crowned, and one of the nails, and the 
spear-head, and many other relics, are in France, in the 
king's chapel*, the crown being placed in a vessel of crystal 
richly worked. For a king of France bought these relics 
of the Jews, to whom the emperor had given them in pledge 
for a great sum of silver. And if it be so, as men say, that 
this crown is of thorns, you shall understand that it was of 
rushes of the sea, which prick as sharply as thorns ; for I 
have seen and beheld many times that of Paris and that 
of Constantinople ; for they were both one, made of rushes 
of the sea. But men had divided them in two parts ; 
of which one part is at Paris, and the other part is at Con- 
stantinople. And I have one of these precious thorns, which 
seems like a white thorn ; and it was given to me as a great 
favour ; for there are many of them broken and fallen into 
the vessel that the crown lieth in ; they break for dryness, 
when men move it, to show it to great lords that come thither. 
And you shall understand that our Lord Jesus, on the 
night he was taken, was led into a garden, where he was first 
examined very sharply ; and there the Jews scorned him, and 
made him a crown of the branches of aubespine, or white 
thorn, which grew in the same garden, and set it on his head, 
so fast and so sore, that the blood ran down on many parts 
of his face, neck, and shoulders. And therefore hath white 
thorn many virtues ; for he that beareth a branch thereof 
upon him, no thunder nor tempest may hurt him ; and no 
evil spirit may enter in the house in which it is, or come to 
the place that it is in. And in that same garden St. Peter 
denied our Lord thrice. Afterward our Lord was led forth 
before the bishops and the masters of the law, into another 
garden belonging to Annas ; and there also he was examined, 
reproved, and scorned, and crowned again with a white thorn, 
which is called barbarines, which grew in that garden, and 
which hath also many virtues. And afterward he was led 
into a garden of Caiphas, and there he was crowned with 
eglantine. And after he was led into the chamber of Pilate, 
and there he was examined and crowned. And the Jews 
set him in a chair, and clad him in a mantle ; and there they 
made the crown of rushes of the sea; and there they knelt 

* The beautiful chapel built by St Louis, and now known as the Saiiite 

134 SIR JOHN MAUx\DEVILLE. [A.D. 1322. 

to him, and scorned him, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews !" 
Half of this crown is at Paris, and the other half at Con- 
stantinople. And Christ had this crown on his head when 
he was placed on the cross ; and therefore ought men to wor- 
ship it, and hold it more worthy than any of the others. And 
the emperor of Almaine possesses the spear- shaft, but the head 
of the spear is at Paris. Yet the emperor of Constantinople 
saith that he hath the spear-head, and I have often seen it ; 
but it is greater than that at Paris. 

Chapter III. 


At Constantinople lieth St. Anne, our Lady's mother, whom 
St. Helena caused to be brought from Jerusalem. And there 
lieth also the body of John Chrysostom, who was archbishop 
of Constantinople. There lieth also St. Luke the Evangelist, 
whose bones were brought from Bethany, where he w^as 
buried. And many other relics are there. And there is the 
vessel of stone, as it were of marble, which men call Enydros, 
and which continually drops w^ater, and fills itself every year, 
till it run over, besides what men take from within. Constan- 
tinople is a very fair and good city, and well walled, and it is 
three-cornered. There is an arm of the sea of Hellespont, 
which some men call the mouth of Constantinople, and some 
men call it the Brace (or arm) of St. George ; and that arm 
incloses two parts of the city. And upward to the sea, upon 
the w^ater, was wont to be the great city of Troy, in a very 
fair plain ; but that city was destroyed by the people of Greece, 
and little thereof now appears, because it is so long since it 
was destroyed. 

About Greece there are many isles, as Calliste, Calcas, 
Cetige, Tesbria, Mynea, Flaxon, Melo, Carpate, and Lemne. 
In this latter isle is Mount Athos, that passeth the clouds. 
And there are divers languages and many countries obedient 
to the emperor, namely, Turcople, Pyneynard, Cornagne, and 
many others, as Thrace and Macedonia, of which Alexander 
was king. In this country was Aristotle born, in a city called 
Stagyra, a little from the city of Thrace. And at Stagyra 
Aristotle lieth ; and there is an altar upon his tomb. And 
they make great feasts for him ever year, as though he were 
a saint. And at his altar they hold their great councils and 

A.D. 1322.] CONSTANTINOPLE. 135 

their assemblies, expecting that through inspiration of God 
and of him they shall have the better council. In this coun- 
try are very high hills, toward the extremity of Macedonia. 
And there is a great hill, called Olympus, which divides Ma- 
cedonia and Thrace, so high that it passeth the clouds. And 
there is another hill, called Athos, so high that the shadow of 
it reaches to Lemne^-^, which is an island seventy-six miles 
distant. At the summit of this hill the air is so clear, that 
no wind is found there, and therefore no animal may live 
there ; and the air is dry. And men say in those countries, 
that philosophers once went upon those hills, and held to 
their nose a sponge moistened with water, to have air, because 
the air above was so dry ; and at the summit, in the dust of 
those hills, they wrote letters and figures with their fingers, 
and at the year's end they came again, and found the same 
letters and figures which they had written the year before, 
without any change. And therefore it appears evident that 
these hills pass the clouds and join to the pure air. 

At Constantinople is the palace of the emperor, very hand- 
some and well built ; and therein is a fair place for joustings, 
or for other plays and sports. And it is made with stages, 
and hath steps about, that every man may see well, and not 
intercept the view of those behind. And under these stages 
are stables well vaulted for the emperor's horses ; and all the 
pillars are of marble. And within the church of St. Sophia, 
an emperor once would have buried the body of his father 
when he was dead ; and, as they made the grave, they found 
a body in the earth, and upon the body lay a fine plate of 
gold, on which was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, 
letters that said thus, " Jesus Christ shall be born of the 
Virgin Mary, and I believe in him." And the date when it 
wa» laid in the earth was tw^o thousand years before our Lord 
was born. The plate of gold is still preserved in the treasury of 
the church. And they say that it was Hermogenes, the wise man. 

Although the men of Greece are Christians, yet they vary 
from our faith ; for they say that the Holy Ghost may not 
come of the Son, but only of the Father. And they are not 
obedient to the Church of Rome, nor to the pope ; for they 
say that their patriarch hath as much power over the sea as 
the pope hath on this side the sea. And therefore pope 

* There is an old Greek iambic to this effect : — " "a6uo$ xaAt/TTE/ 'prXivooi 


John XXII. sent letters to them, how Christian faith should 
be all one, and that they should be obedient to the pope, who 
is God's vicar on earth, to whom God gave his full power to 
bind and to assoil, and therefore they should be obedient to 
him. But they sent back divers answers, amongst others 
saying thus: " We believe well that thy power is great upon 
thy subjects. We may not suffer thy great pride. We are 
not in purpose to fulfil thy great covetousness. The Lord 
be with thee; for our Lord is with us. — Farewell." And no 
other answer might he have of them. They make their sacra- 
ment of the altar of unleavened bread, because our Lord 
made it of such bread when he made his Maundy-!^. And on 
Shere-Thursday they make their unleavened bread, in token 
of the Maundy, and dry it in the sun, and keep it all the 
year, and give it to sick men instead of God s body. And they 
make but one unction when they christen children. They 
anoint not the sick. And they say that there is no purga- 
tory, and that the souls shall have neither joy nor pain till 
the day of doom. They say, moreover, that fornication is not 
a deadly sin, but a thing that is according to nature ; and that 
men and women should wed but once ; and whosoever weddeth 
oftener than once, their children are bastards, and begotten 
in sin. Their priests also are wedded. They say, also, that 
usury is no deadly sin; and they sell benefices of holy 
church ; and so do men in other places, (God amend it when 
his will is !) and that is a great scandal ; for now is simony 
king crowned in holy church: God amend it for his mercy! 
And they say that in Lent men shall not fast, or sing mass, 
except on the Saturday and on the Sunday. And they fast 
not on the Saturdays, except it be Christmas Eve, or Easter 
Eve. They suffer not the Latins to sing at their altars ; and 
if they do by any chance, they immediately wash the altar 
with holy water. And they say, that there should be but one 
mass said at one altar upon one day. They say also that our 
Lord never ate, but that he made sign of eating. They 
say, moreover, that we sin deadly in shaving our beards ; for 
the beard is token of a man, and the gift of our Lord. And 
they say that we sin deadly in eating of animals that were 

* Maundy-Thursday is the day of Christ's commandment on instituting 
the Lord's Supper, the Thursday before Easter. It was a\so called Shere- 
Thursday. The ceremony observed on the day was called holding or making 
the Maundy. 


forbiddeD in the Old Testament and by the old law, as swme, 
hares, and other beasts that chew not their cud. And they 
say that we sin in eating flesh on the days before Ash Wed- 
nesday, and in eating flesh on the Wednesday, and eggs and 
cheese on the Fridays. And they curse all those who abstain 
from eating flesh on the Saturday. The emperor of Con- 
stantinople appoints the patriarch, the archbishops, and the 
bishops, and gives the dignities and the benefices of churches, 
and deprives those who deserve it, when he finds any cause ; 
and so is he lord both temporal and spiritual in his country '!^. 
And although these things touch not to our way, never- 
theless they touch to that that I have promised you, to show 
you a part of the customs, and manners, and diversities of 
countries. And because this is the first country that is dis- 
cordant in faith and in belief, and varies from our faith on 
this side the sea, therefore I have set it here, that you may 
know the diversity that is between our faith and theirs. 
For many men have great liking to hear of strange things of 
diverse countries. 

Chapter IV. 


Now return I again to explain to you the way from Con- 
stantinople to Jerusalem. He that will proceed through 
Turkey, goes towards the city of Nice, and passes through 
the gate of Chienetout, and men see constantly before them 
the hill of Chienetout, which is very lofty : it is a mile and 
a half from Nice. And if you will go by water, by the 
Brace of St. George, and by the sea where St. Nicholas 
lieth, and towards many other places, first, you go to an isle 
that is called Sylo, in which mastic grows on small trees, 
out of which comes gum, as it were of plum-trees, or of 
cherry-trees. And after men go by the isle of Patmos, 
w^here St. John the Evangelist wrote the Apocalypse. And 
you shall understand that St. John was thirty- two years 
of age when our Lord suffered his passion, and after his 

* The period during which Maundeville was in the east was that when 
the question of reuniting the Greek and Latin churches was in agitation, 
which is probably the cause he enters so largely into their differences of 

138 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

passion he lived sixty-seven years, and in the hundredth 
year of his age he died. From Patmos men go to Ephesus, 
a fair city, and nigh to the sea. And there died St. John, 
and was buried in a tomb behind the high altar. And there 
is a fair church, for the Christians were always wont to hold 
that place. And in the tomb of St. John is nothing but 
manna, which is called angels' meat, for his body was trans- 
lated into Paradise. And the Turks now hold all that place, 
with the city, and the church ; and all Asia the Less is called 
Turkey. And you shall understand that St. John caused his 
grave to be made there in his life, and laid himself therein, all 
alive ; and, therefore, some men say that he did not die, but 
that he rests there till the day of doom-i^. And, in truth, 
there is a great marvel, for men may see there the earth of 
the tomb many times openly stir and move, as though there 
were living things under. 

And from Ephesus we go through many islands in the 
sea to the city of Patera, where St. Nicholas was born, and 
so to Myra, where he was chosen to be bishop ; and there 
grows very good and strong wine, which they call wine 
of Myra. And from thence men go to the isle of Crete, 
which the emperor once gave to the Genoese. And then we 
pass through the isles of Colos and of Langof, of the which 
isles Ypocras was lord ; and some men say, that in the isle 
of Lango is still the daughter of Ypocras, in form and like- 
ness of a great dragon, which is a hundred fathoms in length, 
as they say, for I have not seen her. And they of the isles 
call her lady of the land. And she lies in an old castle, 
in a cave, and appears twice or thrice in the year ; and she 
doth no harm to any man unless he do her harm. She 
was thus changed and transformed from a fair damsel into 
the likeness of a dragon by a goddess named Diana; and 
they say that she shall remain in that form until the time 
that a knight come, who shall be so bold that he dare come to 
her and kiss her on the mouth ; and then she shall turn again 

* Long before our author's time, the text, in John xxi. 22, 23, in the 
vulgar Latin, happened to be changed in favour of this notion ; for Jesus' 
answer to Peter's question about John, " Lord, and what shall this man dol" 
is there, "Sic eum volo manere donee veniam," the conjunction si being 
dropped, by means of sic following. 

+ Lango is but another name of the isle of Cos, where Hippocrates, (com- 
monly called by the medieval writers Ypocras,) the famous physician, was 
born. See before, p. 33. 


to her own nature, and be a woman again, but after that she 
shall not live long. And it is not long since a knight of 
Ehodes, who was bold and doughty in arms, said that he 
would kiss her; when he was upon his courser and went to 
the castle, and entered into the cave, the dragon lifted up 
her head towards him, and when the knight saw her in that 
form, so hideous and horhble, he fled aw^ay. But the dragon 
carried the knight upon a rock, and from thence she cast 
him into the sea, and so was lost both horse and man. A 
young man that knew not of the dragon, went out of a ship, 
and proceeded through the isle until he came to the castle 
and entered the cave, and went so far that he found a 
chamber ; and there he saw a damsel who was combing her 
head and looking in a mirror, and she had much treasure 
about her, and he believed that she had been a common 
woman, who dwelled there to receive men to folly; and he 
abode till the damsel saw the shadow of him in the mirror, 
and she turned her towards him and asked him, what he 
would? And he said, he would be her paramour. And she 
asked him if he were a knight? And he said, nay. iVnd 
then she said, that he might not be her leman; but she 
bid him go again unto his fellows and get him knighted, and 
come again upon the morrow, and she would come out of the 
cave before him ; and then he should come and kiss her on 
the mouth, and have no fear, "for I shall do thee no harm, 
although thou see me in likeness of a dragon ; for though 
thou see me hideous and horrible to look upon, know that it 
is made by enchantment. For without doubt I am no other 
than thou seest now, a woman, and therefore fear not ; and 
if thou kiss me, thou shalt have all this treasure, and be my 
lord, and lord also of all the isle." And he departed from 
her and went to his fellows, in the ship, and w^as made a 
knight, and returned on the morrow to kiss this damsel. 
But when he saw her come out of the cave, in form of a 
dragon, so hideous and so horrible, he had so great fear that 
he fled again to the ship ; and she followed him. And when 
she saw that he turned not again, she began to cry as a thing 
that had much sorrow, and then she returned to her cave; 
and anon the knight died. And from that time to this 
might no knight see her, but he died anon. But when there 
shall come a knight who is bold enough to kiss her, he shall 
not die; but he shall turn the damsel into her right form 

140 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1323. 

and natural shape, and he shall be lord of all the countries 
and isles abovesaid. 

And from thence men come to the isle of Rhodes, which 
isle the Hospitalers* hold and govern, having on a time 
taken it from the emperor. It was formerly called Collos, 
and so the Turks call it still ; and St. Paul, in his Epistles, 
writes to the people of this isle, ad Colossenses\. This isle 
is nearly eight hundred miles from Constantinople. 

From this isle of Rhodes we go to Cyprus, where are many 
vines, which first produce red wine, and after one year they 
become white ; and those vdnes that are most w^hite are the 
clearest and best of smell. And men pass that way by a place 
which was a great city and a great land ; and the city was 
called Sathalie. This city and the land were lost through the 
folly of a young man, who had a fair damsel whom he loved 
well for his paramour, and she died suddenly and was placed 
in a tomb of marble ; and for the great love that he had to 
her, he went in the night to her tomb, and opened it and 
went in. And when it came to the end of nine months, 
there came a voice to him, and said, "Go to the tomb of that 
woman, and open it, and behold w^hat thou hast begotten on 
her; and if thou omittest to go, thou shalt have a great 
harm. And he went and opened the tomb ; and there came 
out a snake, very hideous to behold, which immediately flew 
about the city and the country, and soon after the city was 
swallowed up J. And there are many perilous passages. 

From Rhodes to Cyprus are five hundred miles and more; 
but we may go to Cyprus without touching at Rhodes. Cyprus 

* The two orders, the Templars and Hospitalers, having been expelled 
from Palestine by the Mohammedans, on the capture of Acre in 1291, the first 
retired to Cyprus ; but in 1310 the Hospitalers made themselves masters of 
the isle of Rhodes, which became the chief place of the order until it was 
taken by the Turks, on the 1st of January, 1523, when they removed to 

+ See before, p. 33 of the present volume, where the same blunder is 
made by Saewulf 

% This story, or one very similar to it, is found in the chronicle of John of 
Brompton. The bay of Batalia was notoriously dangerous to navigators, who 
attempted to account for it by legends like these. We have already seen an 
earlier traveller, Saewulf, narrowly escape shipwreck in passing it (p. 49). 
John of Brompton gives two legends to account for the stormy character of 
the bay, according to one of which the head of the monster alluded to in the 
text lay at the bottom ; and when it was turned with the face upwards, this 
position caused a perilous tempest. 

A.D. 1322.] THE ISLAND OF CYPKUS. 141 

is a very good, fair, and great island, and it hath four principal 
cities, with an archbishop at Nicosia, and four other bishops ; 
and at Famagosta is one of the first harbours of the sea in the 
world ; and there arrive Christians, Saracens, and men of all 
nations. In Cyprus is the hill of the Holy Cross, where there 
is an abbey of black monks, and there is the cross of Dismas, 
the good thief, as I have said before. And some men believe 
that there is half of the cross of our Lord ; but it is not so, 
and they do wrong who make people believe so. In Cyprus 
lies St. Zenomyne, of whom men of that country make great 
solemnity ; and in the castle of Amours lies the body of St. 
Hilary, which they keep very worshipfully. Near Famagosta 
St. Barnabas the apostle was born. In Cyprus they hunt with 
papyons *, which resemble leopards, and they take wild beasts 
right well, and they are somewhat larger than lions, and take 
more sharply and more cleverly than hounds do. In Cyprus it 
is the custom for lords and all other men to eat on the earth ; 
for they make trenches in the earth about in the hall, deep to 
the knee, and pave them ; and when they will eat, they go 
therein and sit there. And the reason is that they may be 
cooler ; for that land is much hotter than it is here. And at 
great feasts, and for strangers, they set forms and tables as 
men do in this country ; but they themselves prefer sitting on 
the earth. 

From Cyprus they go to the land of Jerusalem by sea, and 
in a day and night he that hath good wind may come to the 
haven of Tyre, which is now called Sur. Here was once a 
great and good city of the Christians ; but the Saracens have 
destroyed it in great part; and they guard that haven carefully 
for fear of the Christians. Men might go more direct to 
that haven, wdthout touching at Cyprus ; but they go gladly to 
Cyprus, to rest them in the land, or to buy things that they 
need for their living. On the sea-side many rubies are found. 
There is the well of which Holy Writ speaketh, saying, " A 
fountain of gardens, and a well of living waters."! It was in 
this city of Tyre that the woman said to our Lord, " Blessed 
is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast 

* These were a kind of large wild dogs. Jacobus de Yitriaco (" Hist. 
Orient.," lib. iii.), speaking of the animals of .Tudea, says, " Sunt ibi cameli et 
bubali abundanter, et^apio^iesquos appellant, canes silvestres, acriores quam 

t Song of Solomon, iv. 15. 

142 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1522. 

sucked. "^^ And there our Lord forgave the woman of Canaan 
her sins. And before Tyre stood formerly the stone on which 
our Lord sat and preached, and over which was built the 
church of St. Saviour. 

Eight miles from Tyre, towards the east, upon the sea, is 
the city of Sarphen, in Sarept of the Sidonians. There dwelt 
Elijah the prophet, and he raised there Jonas, the widow's 
son, from death to life. And five miles from Sarphen is the 
city of Sidon, of which Dido was lady, who was wife of Eneas, 
after the destruction of Troy, and who founded the city of 
Carthage in Africa, and now it is called Didon Sayete. And in 
the city of Tyre reigned Agenor, the father of Dido. Sixteen 
miles from Sidon is Beruthe (Beirut); and from Beruthe to 
Sardenare is three days. And from Sardenare it is five miles 
to Damascus. 

And those who are willing to go a long time on the sea, and 
come nearer to Jerusalem, may proceed from Cyprus by sea 
to the port of Jaffa, for that is the nearest port to Jerusalem, 
the distance being only one day and a half. The town is called 
Jaffa, because one of the sons of Noah, named Japhet, founded 
it, and now it is called Joppa. And you shall understand that 
it is one of the oldest towns of the world, for it was founded 
before Noah's flood. And there may still be seen in the rock 
there the place where the iron chains were fastened, where- 
with Andromeda, a great giant, was bound and put in prison, 
before Noah's flood ; a rib of whose side, which is forty feet 
long, is still shown f. 

And those who go to the port of Tyre or Sur, before 
mentioned, may proceed by land, if they will, to Jerusalem. 
They go from Sur in a day to the city of Akoun (Acre), which 
was called formerly Ptolemais, and it was once a very fine city of 
Christians ; but it is now destroyed. It stands upon the sea. 
From Venice to Akoun, by sea, is two thousand and eighty 
Lombard miles. From Calabria, or from Sicily to Akoun, 
by sea, is thirteen hundred Lombard miles. And the Isle 
of Crete is just midway. Near the city of Akoun, toward 
the sea, one hundred and twenty furlongs on the right, 
toward the south, is the hill of Carmel, where Elijah the 

* Luke, xi. 27. 

+ Our author has picked up a strange version of the classic story of Perseus 
and Andromeda, and has even mistaken Andromeda for the monster that was 
to have devoured her. The mark of the chain is mentioned by Solinus. 

A.D. 1322.] ACEE, AND ITS GLASS— GAZA. 143 

prophet dwelt, and where the order of friars Carmelites was 
first founded. This hill is not very great, nor very high. At 
the foot of this hill was formerly a good city of the Christians 
called Caiphas, because Caiaphas first founded it ; but it is 
now all waste. And on the left side of the hill of Carmel is 
a town called Saffre, which is situated on another hill. There 
St. James and St. John were born, and there is a fair church 
in honour of them. And from Ptolemais, which is now^ called 
Akoun, it is one hundred furlongs to a great hill, called the 
scale (or ladder) of Tyre. And near the city of Akoun runs a 
little river called Belon ; and there nigh is the foss of 
Memnon, which is all round; and it is one hundred cubits 
broad, and all full of gravel, shining bright, of which men 
make fair and clear glasses *. Men come from far, by water with 
ships, and by land with carts, to fetch of that gravel ; and though 
ever so much be taken away thereof one day, on the morrow 
it is as full again as ever it was. And that is a great wonder. 
And there is always great wind in that foss, that continually 
stirs the gravel and makes it troubled ; and if any man put 
therein any kind of metal, it turns to glass, and the glass 
made of that gravel, if it be thrown back into the gravel, turns 
to gravel as it was first ; and therefore some men say that it 
is a whirlpool of the gravelly sea. 

From Akoun, above mentioned, it is four days' journey to the 
city of Palestine, which was of the Philistines, now called Gaza, 
which is a gay and rich city ; and it is very fair, and full of 
people, and is at a little distance from the. sea. From this 
city Samson the strong brought the gates upon a high land, 
when he was taken in that city : and there he slew, in a 
palace, the king and himself, and great numbers of the best 
of the Philistines, who had put out his eyes, and shaved his 
head, and imprisoned him, by treason of Delilah, his paramour. 
And therefore he caused a great hall to fall upon them when 
they were at meat. From thence we go to the city of Cesarea, 
and so to the Castle of Pilgrims, and so to Ascalon, and then 
to Jafia, and so to Jerusalem. 

* A similar description is found in Geoffrey de Yinsauf (Itin. Eeg. Ric. I. 
lib. i. c. 32), who, however, states that it is a mere story taken from So- 
linus, and he does not assert that there was such a foss in his time. It 
may be further observed that Maundeville has fallen into another blunder 
in confounding the foss alluded to with the pretended sepulchre of 


Chapter V. 


And he who will go by land through the land of Babylonia, 
where the sultan dwells commonly, he must get leave and 
grace of him, to go more safely through the lands and coun- 
tries. And to go to the Mount of Sinai, before men go to 
Jerusalem, they shall go from Gaza to the castle of Daire. 
And after that, they come out of Syria and enter a wilderness 
where the way is sandy ; and that wilderness and desert lasts 
eight days. But men always find good inns and all they 
need of victuals. And that wilderness - is called Athylec. 
And when a man comes out of that desert, he enters into 
Egypt, which is called Egypt Canopac : and after other lan- 
guage, men call it Morsyn. And there men first find a good 
town, called Belethe, which is at the end of the kingdom of 
Aleppo ; and from thence men go to Babylon and to Cairo. 

At Babylon there is a fair church of our Lady, where she 
dwelt seven years, when she fled out of the land of Judea for 
dread of king Herod. And there lieth the body of St. Bar- 
bara, the virgin and martyr. And there dwelt Joseph after 
he was sold by his brethren. And there ^ Nebuchadnezzar, 
the king, caused the three children to be thrown into the fur- 
nace of fire because they were in the true belief; w^hich chil- 
dren were called Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, as the psalm of 
Benedicite says. But Nebuchadnezzar called them otherwise, 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that is to say, God glo- 
' rious, God victorious, and God over all things and realms, on 
account of the miracle, that he saw God's Son go with the 
children through the fire, as he said. The sultan dwells in 
his Calahelyke (for there is commonly his residence), in a 
fair castle, strong and great, and well set upon a rock. In 
that castle dwell always, to keep it and to serve the sultan, 
more than 6000 persons, who receive here all necessaries from 
the sultan's court. I ought to know it well, for I dwelt a 
great while with him as soldier in his wars against the Be- 
douins ; and he would have married me full highly to a great 
prince's daughter if I would have forsaken my law and my 
belief. But I thank God I had no will to do it for anything 
that he promised me. And you shall understand that the 

* It is curious that Maundeville should thus confound Babylon of Chaldea 
with Babylon of Egypt. 

A.D. 1322.] THE SULTANS OF EGYPT. 145 

sultan IS lord of five kingdoms, that he hath conquered and 
taken possession of by strength ; and these are their names : 
the kingdom of Canopac, that is Egypt ; and the kingdom of 
Jerusalem, where David and Solomon were kings ; and the 
kingdom of Syria, of which the city of Damascus was chief ; 
and the kingdom of Aleppo, in the land of Mathe ; and the 
kingdom of Arabia, that belonged to one of the three kings 
who made offering to our Lord when he was born. And he holds 
many other lands in his hand. And therewithal he holds 
khalifs, which is a full great thing in their language, being as 
much as to say, kings. And there were wont to be five sultans, 
but now there is no more but he of Egypt. The first sultan 
was Sarocon^-i^, who was of Media (the father of Saladin), who 
took the khalif of Egypt and slew him, and was made sultan 
by strength. After him was sultan Saladin, in whose time 
the king of England, Richard I., with many others, kept the 
passage, that Saladin might not pass. After Saladin, reigned 
his son Boradin ; and after him his nephew. After that the 
Comanians, who were in slavery in Egypt, feeling themselves 
of great power, chose them a sultan amongst them, who took 
the name of Melechesalan, in whose time St. Louis, king of 
France, entered into the country and fought with him ; and 
the sultan took him prisoner. This sultan was slain by his 
own servants. And after, they chose another to be sultan, 
who was called Tympieman; he delivered St. Louis out of 
prison for a certain ransom. After him one of the Comanians 
reigned, named Cachas, and slew Tympieman, in order to be 
sultan ; he took the name of Melechemes. He was succeeded 
by one named Bendochdare, who slew Melechemes to be 
sultan, and called himself Melechdare. In his time the good 
king Edward of England entered into Syria, and did great 
harm to the Saracens. This sultan was poisoned at Damascus; 
and his son thought to reign after him by heritage, and took 
the name of Melechsache ; but another, named Elphy, drove 
him out of the country, and made himself sultan. This man 
took the city of Tripoli, and destroyed many of the Christian 

* Sirkouk, or Siracon, was the vizir of Noureddin, sultan of Aleppo^ and 
was uncle, not father, of Saladin. He dethroned the last Fatimite khalif of 
Egypt, and brought that country under the power of the sultans, which was 
soon after usurped by Saladin, who reigned from 1173 to 1193. The other 
sultans mentioned by Maundeville may easily be identified by a reference to 
the ordinary histories. 



men, in the year of Grace 1289 ; but lie was soon after 
slain. Elphy's son succeeded as sultan, and took the name of 
Melechasseraff ; he took the city of Acre, and expelled the 
Christians ; and he also was poisoned, upon which his brother 
was made sultan, and called Melechnasser. And after, one 
who was called Guytoga took him and threw him into prison 
in the castle of Mount Royal, and usurped the sovereignty by 
force, and took the name of Melechcadelle ; and he was a Tar- 
tar. But the Comanians drove him out of the country, and 
caused him much sorrow ; and made one of themselves sultan, 
named Lachyn, who assumed the name of Melechmanser. 
One day he was playing at chess, and his sword lay beside 
him, and it befel that one angered him, and he was slain 
with his own sword. After that there was great discord be- 
fore they could choose a sultan, and finally they agreed to 
take Melechnasser, whom Guytoga had put in prison at 
Mount Royal. He reigned long and governed wisely ; so that 
his eldest son, Melechemader, was chosen after him ; he was 
secretly put to death by his brother, who succeeded him, and 
w^as called Melechmadabron. And he was sultan when I de- 
parted from that country ^^'. 

Now you must know that the sultan can lead out of Egypt 
more than 20,000 men of arms; and out of Syria, and Turkey, 
and other countries that he holds, he may raise more than 
50,000. And all these are at his wages ; and they are a,lways 
ready, besides the people of his country, who are without 
number. And each of them has six score florins by the year ; 
but he is expected to keep three horses and a camel. And in 
the cities and towns are admirals, that have the government 
of the people. One has four to govern, another five, another 
more, and another a much greater number. And the ad- 
miral, himself alone, receives as much as all the other soldiers 
under him. And therefore, when the sultan will advance any 
worthy knight, he makes him an admiral. When there is 
dearth, the knights are very poor, and then they sell both 
their horses and their harness. The sultan has four wives, 
one Christian, and three Saracens; of whom one dwells at 
Jerusalem, another at Damascus, and another at Ascalon. 

* This was the sultan Koutchouc-Ascraf, who was chosen successor to his 
brother in 1341, and, after reigning about six months, was deposed on the 
11th of January, 1342. This fixes Maundeville's departure from Egypt to 
the latter months of the year 1341. 

A.D. 1322.] THE TOWER OF BABEL. 147 

And when tliey please they remove to other cities ; and when 
the sultan will he may go and visit them. And he has as many 
paramours as he pleases ; for he causes to he brought before 
him the fairest and noblest damsels of his country, who are 
kept and served full honourably, and when he will have one 
to lie with him, he makes them all come before him, and 
looks at them all to see which is most to his liking, and to her 
anon he sends or throws a ring from his finger ; and then 
anon she shall be bathed and richly attired, and anointed 
with delicate things of sweet smell, and then led to the 
sultan's chamber. And thus he acts as often as he likes, 
when he will have any of them. No stranger comes before 
the sultan without being clothed in cloth of gold, or of Tar- 
tary, or of Camaka, in the Saracens' guise, and according to 
the usage of the Saracens. And when men see the sultan 
for the first time, be it at the window, or in any other place, 
they must kneel to him and kiss the earth, for that is the 
manner for those who speak with the sultan to do reverence 
to him. When messengers of foreign countries come before 
him, the sultan's people, when the strangers speak to him, 
stand round the sultan with drawn swords and gysarmes and 
axes, their arms raised up on high with their weapons, to 
smite them, if they say any word that is displeasing to the 
sultan. Neither does any stranger come before him without 
receiving a promise and grant of what he asks reasonably, if 
it be not against his law ; and so do other princes beyond. 
For they say that no man should come before a prince with- 
out being the better, and departing from his presence in 
greater gladness than when he came before him. 

You must understand that the Babylon of which I have 
spoken, where the sultan dwells, is not that great Babylon 
where the diversity of languages was first made by the miracle 
of God when the great tower of Babel was begun, of which 
the walls were sixty-four furlongs high ; for that is in the 
great deserts of Arabia, on the way as men go toward the 
kingdom of Chaldea. But it is full long since any man dare 
approach to the tower ; for it is all desert and full of dragons 
and great serpents, and infested by divers venomous beasts. 
That tower, with the city, was twenty-five miles in the circuit 
of the walls, as they of the country say, and as men may 
judge by estimation, according to what men of the country 
tell. And though it is called the tower of Babylon, yet there 

L 2 

148 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

were ordained within it many mansions and great dwelling- 
places, in length and breadth ; and it included an extensive 
district, for the tower alone was ten miles square. That tower 
was founded by king Nimrod, who w^as king of that country, 
and he was the first king in the world. He caused an image 
to be made in the likeness of his father, and obliged all his 
subjects to worship it, in imitation of which other lords begun 
to do the same, and this was the commencement of idols 
and simulacres*. The town and city were situated in a fair 
country on a plain, which they call the country of Samar : 
the walls of the city were two hundred cubits in height, and 
fifty cubits in breadth. The river Euphrates ran through the 
city and about the tower; but Cyrus, king of Persia, took 
from them the river, and destroyed all the city and the tow^er 
also, for he divided the river into three hundred and sixty 
small rivers, because he had sw^orn that he would put the 
river in such point that a w^oman might easily pass it without 
taking up her clothes ; because he had lost many worthy 
men that tried to pass the river by swdmmingf. And from 
Babylon, where the sultan dwells, to go right between the 
east and the north, towards the great Babylon, it is forty days 
across the desert. But the great Babylon is not in the land and 
power of the said sultan, but in the power and lordship of the 
king of Persia, who holds it of the great chan, who is the 
greatest emperor and the most sovereign lord of all the parts 
beyond ; and he is lord of the isles of Cathay and of many other 
isles, and of a great part of India. His land borders unto 
Prester John's land ; and he possesses so much land, that he 
knoweth not the end of it. And he is a mightier and greater 
lord without comparison than the sultan. I shall speak more 
fully of his royal estate and of his might when 1 treat of India. 
The city of Mechon (Mecca), where Mohammed is buried, is 
also in the great desert of Arabia. His body lies there very 
honourably in their temple, which the Saracens call mosque. 
It is from Babylon the Less, where the sultan dwells, to 
Mechon, about thirty- two days. The realm of Arabia is a 
very great country ; but therein is over much desert, and no 
man may dwell there in that desert, for want of water, 
because the land is all gravelly and full of sand. And it is 

^ See Maundeville's explanation of this word in a subsequent chapter. 
+ This account of Babylon is taken chiefly from Pliny and the ancient 


dry and entirely barren, because it hath no moisture, and 
therefore is there so much desert. And if it had rivers and 
wells, and the land were as in other parts, it would be as full 
of people and as well inhabited as in other places. For 
there is a great multitude of people wherever the land is 
inhabited. Arabia reaches from the borders of Chaldea to 
the extremity of Africa, and borders on the land of Idumea, 
towards the end of Botron. And in Chaldea the chief city is 
Baldak*. The chief city of Africa is Carthage, which Dido, 
who was Eneas 's wife, founded. Mesopotamia stretches also 
unto the deserts of Arabia ; it is an extensive country, and in 
it is the city of Haran, where Abraham's father dwelt, and 
from whence Abraham departed by command of the angel f. 
And of that city was Ephraemj, who was a celebrated scholar. 
Theophilus was also of that city, whom our Lady saved from 
the evil one§. Mesopotamia reaches from the river Eu- 
phrates to the river Tigris, lying between those two rivers ; 
and beyond the Tigris is Chaldea, which is a very extensive 
kingdom. In that realm, at Baldak abovesaid, the khalifs 
formerly dwelt, who were both as emperors and popes of 
the Arabians, lords spiritual and temporal. They were the 
successors of Mohammed, from whom they were descended. 
The city of Baldak was formerly called Sutis||, and was 
founded by Nebuchadnezzar. There dwelt the holy prophet 
Daniel, and there he saw visions of heaven, and there he 
made the exposition of dreams IF. There were formerly three 
khalifs, and they dwelt in the city of Baldak abovesaid. 

The khalif of Egypt dwelt at Cairo, beside Babylon; and at 
Marrok, on the west sea, dwelt the khalif of the Barbarians ^^ 
and Africans. But there are now none of the khalifs, nor 
have there been any since the time of the sultan Saladin, 
since which the sultan calls himself the khalif, and thus the 
khalifs have lost their name. You must know that Babylon 
the Less, where the sultan dwells, and the city of Cairo, which 

f Gen. xii. 1. X Ephraem Cyrus. 

§ The legend of Theophilus, who sold himself to the evil one, and then 
repented, and was saved from the devil by the Virgin Mary, was a popular 
one in the Middle Ages. See Jubinal's Rutebeuf, vol. ii. pages 79 and 260. 
He is commonly said to have lived at Adana, in Cilicia. 

II Susa. 

Ill A spurious book, purporting to be the exposition of dreams compiled by 
the prophet Daniel, was very popular in the middle ages, and is the work 
here alluded to. 

** i. e. The people of Barbary. 


is near it, are great and fair cities, the one nearly adjacent to 
the other. Babylon is situated on the river Gyson, some- 
times called the Nile, which comes out of terrestrial Paradise, 
The river Nile, every year, when the sun enters the sign of 
Cancer, begins to increase, and continues increasing as long 
as the sun is in Cancer and in Leo. And it increases to 
such a degree, that it is sometimes twenty cubits or more 
deep, and then it does great harm to the goods that are upon 
the land ; for then no man can till the earth on account of 
its great moistness, and therefore there is dear time in that 
country. And also, when it increaseth little, it is dear time 
in that country, for want of moisture. And when the sun 
is in the sign of Virgo, then begins the river to wane and 
decrease gradually, so that when the sun is entered into the 
sign of Libra, then they enter between these rivers. This 
river comes from terrestrial Paradise, between the deserts of 
India ; and after it descends on the earth, and runs through 
many extensive countries under earth ; and after it comes out 
under a high hill, which they call Alothe, between India and 
Ethiopia, at a distance of five mouths' journey from the 
entrance of Ethiopia; and after it environs all Ethiopia and 
Mauritania, and goes all along from the land of Egypt, to the 
city of Alexandria, to the end of Egypt, where it falls into the 
sea. About this river are many birds and fowls, as storks, 
which they call ibes. 

Egypt is a long country, but it is narrow, because they 
may not enlarge it towards the desert for want of water. 
And the country is situated along the river Nile ; so that 
that river may serve by floods or otherwise, that when it flows 
it may spread abroad through the country. For it raineth 
but little in that country, and for that cause they have no 
water, unless it be by the overflowing of that river. And as it 
does not rain, the air is always pure and clear ; therefore, in that 
country are good astronomers, for they find there no clouds to 
obstruct them. 

The city of Cairo is very great, more extensive than that 
of Babylon the Less ; and it is situated above tow^ards the 
desert of Syria, a little above the river aforesaid. In Egypt 
there are two parts ; Upper Egypt, which is towards Ethi- 
opia, and Lower Egypt, which is towards Arabia. In Egypt 
is the land of Rameses and the land of Goshen. Egypt is 
a strong country, for it has many dangerous havens, because 
of the great rocks, that are strong and dangerous to pass by. 

A.D. 1322.] EGYPT THE PHCENIX. 151 

Towards the east of Egypt is the Red Sea, which extends to 
the city of Coston ; and towards the west is the country of Ly- 
bia, which is a very dry land, and unfruitful, on account of the 
excess of heat. And that land is called Fusthe. And towards 
the south is Ethiopia. And towards the north is the desert, 
which extends to Syria. Thus the country is strong on all 
sides. And it is full fifteen days' journey in length, and more 
than twice as much of desert, and it is but two days in breadth. 
Between Egypt and Nubia there is full twelve days of desert. 
The men of Nubia are Christians, but they are black, like the 
Moors, on account of the great heat of the sun. 

In Egypt there are five provinces : one is called Sahythe ; 
the other, Demeseer; another, Resithe-i^, which is an isle 
in the Nile ; another, Alexandria ; and another, the land of Da- 
miette. This latter city was once very strong, but it was 
twice taken by the Christians, and therefore the Saracens 
have beaten dow^n the walls. And with the walls and the 
tower thereof the Saracens made another city farther from 
the sea, and called it New Damiette, so that now the older 
town of Damiette is uninhabited. That city of Damiette is 
one of the havens of Egypt, and at Alexandria is the other. 
This is a very strong city; but it has no water except what 
is brought by conduit from the Nile, which enters into their 
cisterns ; and if any one stopped that water from them they 
could not hold out a siege. In Egypt there are but few 
forts or castles, because the country is so strong of itself. 

In Egypt is the city of Heliopolis, that is to say, the city 
of the Sun, in which there is a temple, made round, after the 
shape of the temple of Jerusalem. The priests of that 
temple have all their writings dated by the bird called Phoe- 
nix, of which there is but one in the world. It comes to 
burn itself on the altar of the temple at the end of five 
hundred years, for so long it lives; and then the priests 
array their altar, and put thereon spices, and sulphur, and 
other things that will burn quickly, and the Phoenix comes 
and burns itself to ashes. The next day they find in the 
ashes a worm; and the second day after they find a bird, 
alive and perfect; and the third day it flies awayf. This 

* Rosetta. 

+ This account of the Phoenix is taken from Pliny's Natural History, 
X. 2, and xi. 37. The legend of the Phoenix was a very favourite one 
throughout the middle ages. 

152 . SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322^ 

bird is often seen flying in those countries ; it is somewhat 
larger than an eagle, and has a crest of feathers on its 
head greater than that of a peacock ; its neck is yel- 
low, its beak blue, and its wings of a purple colour, and 
the tail is yellow^ and red. It is a very handsome bird to 
look at against the sun, for it shines very gloriously and 

Also, in Egypt, there are gardens with trees and herbs 
which bear fruit seven times in the year. And in that land 
abundance of fair emeralds are found, which are on that account 
cheaper than elsewhere. When it rains, once in the sum- 
mer, in the land of Egypt, the country is all full of great 
mires. At Cairo they sell commonly in the market, as we 
do beasts, both men and women of a different religion. And 
there is a common house in that city, which is all full of 
small furnaces, to which the townswomen bring their eggs of 
hens, geese, and ducks, to be put into the furnaces ; and they 
that keep that house cover them with horse-dung, without 
hen, goose, or duck, or any other fowl, and at the end of 
three weeks or a month they come again and take their 
chickens, and nourish them and bring them forth, so that 
all the country is full of them. And this they do there 
both winter and summer. 

In that country also, and in some others, are found long 
apples in their season, w^hich they call apples of Paradise ; 
and they are very sweet and of good savour. And though 
you cut them in ever so many slices or parts, across or end- 
wise, you will always find in the middle the figure of the holy 
cross. But they will rot within eight days, for which reason 
they cannot be carried to far countries. They have great 
leaves, a foot and a half long, and proportionately broad. 
They find there also the apple-tree of Adam, the fruit of 
w^hich has a bite on one side. And there are also fig-trees 
which bear no leaves, but figs grow upon the small branches; 
and men call them figs of Pharoah. Also near Cairo is the field 
where balm grows : it comes out on small trees, that are no 
higher than the girdle of a man's breeches, and resemble the 
w^ood of the wild vine. And in that field are seven wells, 
which our Lord Jesus Christ made with one of his feet, when he 
went to play with other children ^^^. That field is not so well 

* The story is taken from one of the apocryphal books of the Eastern 

A.D. 1322.] THE NATURE OF BALSAM. 153 

closed but men may enter at their will ; but in tbe season 
when the balm is growing good guards are placed there, that 
no man dare enter. This balm grows in no other place but 
this ; and though men bring of the plants to plant in other 
countries, they grow well and fair, but they bring forth no 
fruit; and the leaves of balm never fall. They cut the 
branches with a sharp flint stone, or with a sharp bone ; for if 
any one cut them with iron, it would destroy their virtue and 
nature. The Saracens call the wood Enochhalse ; and the 
fruit, which resembles cubebs, they call Abebissam>; and the 
liquor that drops from the branches they call Guybalse. They 
always cause that balm to be cultivated by Christians, or else 
it would not fructify, as the Saracens say themselves, for it 
hath been oftentimes proved. Men say also that balm 
grows in India the Greater, in that desert where the trees of 
the sun and moon spake to Alexander*. But I have not 
seen it, for I have not been so far upward, because there 
are too many perilous passages. And you must know that a 
man ought to take great care in buying balm ; for, if he does 
not know it well, he may very easily be deceived ; for they 
sell a gam called turpentine instead of balm, putting thereto 
a little balm to give a good odour. And some put wax in oil 
of the wood of the fruit of balm, and say that it is balm; 
and some distil cloves of gilofre and spikenard of Spain, and 
other spices that are well smelling, and the liquor from it 
they call balm ; and they imagine they have balm, but they 
are mistaken. For the Saracens counterfeit it to deceive the 
Christians, as I have seen many a time ; and after them, the 
merchants and the apothecaries counterfeit it again, and then 
it is less worth, and a great deal worse. But I will show how 
you may know and prove it, to the end that you shall not be 
deceived. First, you must know that the natural balm is 
very clear, of citron colour, and strong smell ; and if it be 
thick, or red, or black, it is counterfeit. And if you will 

sectarians, which had a considerable influence on the legendary literature 
of the medieval church, 

* The wonderful adventures of Alexander the Great in his Indian expedi- 
tion, and the marvels he met with, are the subject of a multitude of extra- 
ordinary legends in the middle ages, and exerted no little influence on 
geography and natural science down to a comparatively recent period. The 
hero was made to give an account of them in a supposititious letter to his 
preceptor Aristotle, which was published in almost every language in Western 
Europe, and is of freq^uent recurrence in medieval manuscripts. 


put a little balm in the palm of your hand towards the sun, 
if it be fine and good you will not be able to bear your hand 
in the sun's heat. Also, take a little balm with the point of 
a knife, and touch it to the fire, and if it burn it is a good 
sign. Take also a drop of balm, and put it into a dish, or in 
a cup, with milk of a goat, and, if it be natural balm, anon it 
will take and curdle the milk. Or put a drop of balm in 
clear water, in a cup of silver or in a clean basin, and stir it 
well w^ith the clear water ; and if the balm be fine and ge- 
nuiue the water will not be troubled ; but if the balm be coun- 
terfeit the water will become troubled immediately. Also, 
if the balm be fine, it will fall to the bottom of the vessel, as 
though it were quicksilver ; for the fine balm is twice as heavy 
as the balm that is counterfeited. 

Now T will speak of another thing that is beyond Babylon, 
above the Nile, towards the desert, between Africa and Egypt ; 
that is, of the granaries of Joseph-^, that he caused to be 
made, to keep the grains against the dear years. They are 
made of stone, well made by masons' craft; two of them are 
marvellously great and high, the others are not so great. 
And each granary has a gate to enter within, a little above 
the earth ; for the land is wasted and fallen since the gra- 
naries were made. Within they are all full of serpents ; and 
above the granaries without are many writings in divers lan- 
guages. And some men say that they are sepulchres of great 
lords, that were formerly ; but that is not true, for all the 
common rumour and speech of the people there, both far and 
near, is that they are the granaries of Joseph ; and so find 
they in their writings and chronicles. On the other side, if 
they were sepulchres, they would not be empty within ; for 
you may well know, that tombs and sepulchres are not made 
of such magnitude or elevation ; wherefore it is not credible 
that they are tombs or sepulchres. 

Now I will proceed to tell you the other w^ays that draw 
towards Babylon, where the sultan dwells, which is at the 
entry of Egypt ; because many people go thither first, and 
after that to Mount Sinai, and then return to Jerusalem, as I 
have told you before. For they perform first the longer 
pilgrimage, and return by the nearest ways ; because the 

* These are, of course, the pyramids. See the slight allusion to them in 
Benjamin of Tudela, p. 121. 

A.D. 1322.] • WAYS TO JERUSALEM:. 155 

nearer way is tlie more worthy, and that is Jerusalem ; for 
no other pilgrimage is to be compared to it. But to accom- 
plish their pilgrimages more easily and safely, men go first 
the longer way. But whoever will go to Babylon by another 
way, and shorter from the countries of the west, he may go by 
France, Burgundy, and Lombardy. It is not necessary to 
tell you the names of the cities and towns in that way, for 
the way is common, and known to every body. There are 
many ports where men take the sea ; some embark at Genoa ; 
some at Venice, and pass by the Adriatic Sea, which is called 
the Gulf of Venice, and divides Italy and Greece on that 
side ; and some go to Naples ; some to Rome, and from Rome 
to Brindes*, and embark there, and in many other places. 
Some go by Tuscia, Campania, Calabria, by Apulia, and by 
the mountains of Italy Chorisque, by Sardinia, and by Sicily, 
which is a great and good isle. In that isle of Sicily is a 
kind of garden, in which are many different fruits ; and the 
garden is green and flourishing at all seasons of the year, as 
well in winter as in summer. That isle contains in compass 
about three hundred and fifty French miles. Between Sicily 
and Italy there is but a little arm of the sea, which men call 
the Faro of Messina; and Sicily is between the Adriatic Sea 
and the Sea of Lombardy. From Sicily to Calabria is but 
eight Lombard miles. In Sicily there is a kind of serpent 
by which men assay and prove if their children be bastards 
or not ; for if they are born in lawful marriage, the serpents 
go about them, and do them no harm ; but if they are 
illegitimate, the serpents bite them and kill them with their 
venom : and thus many wedded men ascertain if the children 
be their own. Also in that isle is Mount Etna, which men 
call Mount Gybell, and volcanoes, that are ever burning. 
And there are seven places which burn and cast out flames 
of divers colours ; and by the changing of those flames, men 
of that country know when it will be dearth or good time, or 
cold or hot, or moist or dry, or in all other manners how the 
time will vary. From Italy to the volcanoes is but twenty- 
five miles ; and they say that the volcanoes are ways to hell f . 
Also, for those who go by Pisa, there is an arm of the sea, 
where men go to other havens in those parts, and then they 
pass by the isle of G reaf, that is at Genoa ; and so they arrive 

* Brindisi, the ancient Brundusium. + See before, p. 22. 


in Greece at the port of the city of Myrok, or at the port of Va- 
lone, or at the city of Duras (where there is a duke), or at other 
ports in those parts ; and so men go to Constantinople. And 
afterwards they go hy water to the isle of Crete, and to the 
isle of Rhodes, and so to Cyprus, and so to Athens, and 
from thence to Constantinople. 

To hold the more direct way hy sea, it is full one thousand 
eight hundred and eighty Lombard miles. And after, from 
Cyprus they go by sea, and leave Jerusalem and that country 
on the left, and proceed to Egypt, and arrive at the city of 
Damiette, at the entrance of Egypt, whence they go to Alex- 
andria, which is also upon the sea. In that city was St. 
Catherine beheaded ; and there St. Mark the Evangelist was 
martyred and buried ; but the emperor Leo caused his bones 
to be carried to Venice. There is still at Alexandria a fair 
church, all white, without pictures ; and so are all the other 
churches which belonged to the Christians all white wdthin, 
for the Pagans and the Saracens whitewashed them, to de- 
stroy the images of saints that w^ere painted on the walls. 
The city of Alexandria is full thirty furlongs in length, but it 
is but ten broad ; and it is a noble and fair city. Here the 
river Nile enters the sea : in which river are found many 
precious stones, and much also of lignum aloes, a kind of 
wood that comes out of terrestrial Paradise, and is good for 
many different medicines ; and it is very precious. From 
Alexandria we go to Babylon, where the sultan dwells, which 
is situated also on the river Nile ; and this is the shortest way 
to go direct to Babylon. 

From Babylon to Mount Sinai, where St. Catherine lieth, 
you must pass by the desert of Arabia, by which Moses led 
the people of Israel ; and then you pass the well which Moses 
made with his hand in the desert, when the people murmured 
because they found nothing to drink. And then you pass the 
well of Marah, of which the water was first bitter, but the 
children of Israel put therein a tree, and anon the water was 
sweet and good to drink. And then you go by the desert to 
the vale of Elim, in which vale are twelve wells ; and there 
are seventy-two palm-trees that bear the dates which Moses 
found with the children of Israel. And from that valley is 
but a good day's journey to Mount Sinai. 

And those who will go by another way from Babylon go by 
the Red Sea, which is an arm of the ocean. There Moses passed 

A.D. 13?22.] MOUNT SiNAr. 157 

with the children of Israel across the sea all dry, when 
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, pursued him. That sea is about six 
miles broad. That sea is not redder than other seas ; but in 
some places the gravel is red, and therefore they call it the 
Bed Sea. That sea runs to the borders of Arabia and 
Palestine, its extent being more than four days. Then we go 
by desert to the vale of Elim, and thence to Mount Sinai. 
And you must know that by this desert no man may go on 
horseback, because there is neither meat for horses nor water 
to drink ; wherefore they pass that desert with camels. For 
the camel finds always food in trees and on bushes, and he can 
abstain from drink two or three days, which no horse can do. 

From Babylon to Mount Sinai is twelve good days' journey, 
and some make it more; and some haste them, and thus make 
it less. And men always find interpreters to go with them in 
the countries, and further beyond, until they know the 
language. Travellers must carry with them victuals and 
other necessaries sufficient to last through those deserts. 

Mount Sinai is called the Desert of Sin, that is to say, the 
burning bush ; because there Moses saw our Lord God many 
times in form of fire burning upon that hill, and also in a 
burning bush, and spake to him. And that was at the foot of 
the hill. There is an abbey of monks, well built and well 
closed with gates of iron for fear of wild beasts. The monks 
are Arabians or Greeks ; and there is a great convent, and 
they are all as hermits, and drink no wine except on prin- 
cipal feasts; they are very devout men, and live in poverty 
and simplicity on gourds and dates, and perform great ab- 
stinence and penance. Here is the church of St. Catherine, 
in which are many lamps burning, for they have enough oil of 
olives both to burn in their lamps and to eat also, which 
plenty they have by God s miracle : for the ravens, crows, 
and choughs, and other fowls of that country, assemble there 
once every year, and fly thither as in pilgrimage ; and each 
brings a branch of bays or olive in its beak, instead of offer- 
ing, and leaves it there; of which the monks make great 
plenty of oil ; and this is a great marvel. And since fowds 
that have no natural knowledge or reason go thither to seek that 
glorious Virgin, well more ought men to seek her and worship 
her. Behind the altar of that church is the place where 
Moses saw our Lord God in a burning bush. When the 
inonks enter that place they altvays put off both hose, and 

158 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. ] 32'2. 

shoes or boots, because our Lord said to Moses, '*Put off thy 
shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is 
holy ground."'!' And the monks call that place Bezeleel, 
that is, the shadow of God. Beside the high altar raised on 
three steps, is the chest of alabaster containing the bones of 
St. Catherine, and the prelate of the monks shows the 
relics to the pilgrims, and rubs the bones with an instrument 
of silver, whereupon there issues a little oil, as though it were 
a kind of sweating, which is neither like oil nor balm, but is very 
sweet of smell ; and of that they give a little to the pilgrims, 
for there issues but a small quantity of the liquor. They 
next show the head of St. Catherine, and the cloth that she 
was wrapped in, which is still all bloody. And in that same 
cloth, so wrapped, the angels bore her body to Mount Sinai, 
and there they buried her with it. They also show the bush 
which burnt and was not consumed, in which our Lord spake 
to Moses ; and they have many other relics. When the 
prelate of the abbey is dead, I have been informed that his 
lamp becomes extinguished. And when they choose another 
prelate, if he be a good man and worthy to be prelate, his 
lamp will light by the grace of G od, without being touched by 
any man. For every one of them has a lamp for himself, and 
by their lamps they know well when any of them shall die ; 
for then the light begins to change and wax dim. And if he 
be chosen to be prelate, and is not worthy, his lamp imme- 
diately goes out. Other men have told me, that he that sings 
the mass for the prelate that is dead finds written upon the 
altar the name of him that shall be chosen prelate. One day 
I asked several of the monks how this befel. But they would 
not tell me, until I said that they ought not to hide the grace 
that God did them, but that they should publish it, to make 
the people have the more devotion, and that they sinned in 
hiding God's miracle, as appeared to me. And then they told 
me that it so happened often ; but more I might not have of 
them. In that abbey no flies, toads, or lizards, or such foul 
venomous beasts, nor lice, nor fleas, ever enter, by the miracle 
of God and of our Lady ; for there were wont to be so many 
such kind of pests, that the monks were resolved to leave the 
place, and were gone thence to the mountain above, to eschew 
that place. But our Lady came to them and bade them return ; 

* Exod. iii. 5. 


and since that time such vermin have never entered in and 
place amongst them, nor never shall enter hereafter. Before 
the gate is the well where Moses smote the stone from which 
the water came out abundantly. 

From that abbey you go up the mountain of Moses by many 
steps ; and there is, first, a church of our Lady, where she 
met the monks when they fled away from the vermin just 
mentioned ; and higher up the mountain is the chapel of 
Elijah the prophet, which place they call Horeb, whereof 
holy writ speaks, " And he went in the strength of that meat 
forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb, the mount of God.''^-^^ 
And close by is the vine that St. John the Evangelist planted ; 
and a little above is the chapel of Moses, and the rock where 
Moses fled for dread when he saw our Lord face to face. And 
in that rock is imprinted the form of his body ; for he threw 
himself so strongly and so hard on that rock that all his body 
was buried into it, through the miracle of God f . And near it 
is the place where our Lord gave to Moses the ten command- 
ments of the law. And under the rock is the cave where 
Moses dwelt when he fasted forty days and forty nights. 
And from that mountain you pass a great valley, to go to 
another mountain, where St. Catherine was buried by the 
angels of our Lord ; in which valley is a church of forty 
martyrs, where the monks of the abbey often sing. That 
valley is very cold. Next you go up the mountain of St. 
Catherine, which is higher than the mount of Moses ; and 
there, where St. Catherine was buried, is neither church nor 
chapel, nor other dwelling place ; but there is a heap of 
stones about the place where her body was placed by the 
angels. There was formerly a chapel there, but it was cast 
down, and the stones lie still scattered about. And although 
the collect of St. Catherine says that it is the place where 
our Lord gave the ten commandments to Moses, and where 
the blessed virgin St. Catherine was buried, we are to under- 
stand this as meaning that it is the same country, or in a place 
bearing the same name ; for both hills are called the mount 
of Sinai ; but it is a great way from one to the other, and a 
great deep valley lies between them. 

* 1 Kings, xix. 8. 

t This pretended imprint of Moses' body, and some of the other remark- 
able things described by Maundeville, were still shown to visitors in the 
earlier part of the last century. 

160 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

Chapter YI. 


After people have visited these holy places, they proceed 
towards Jerusalem, having taken leave of the monks and 
recommended themselves to their prayers. And then the 
monks give the pilgrims victuals to pass the desert towards 
Syria, which desert extends full thirteen days' journey. In 
that desert dwell many of the Arabians, who are called 
Bedouins and Ascopardes, who are people full of all evil con- 
ditions, having no houses, but tents, which they make of the 
skins of camels and other beasts that they eat ; and under 
these they sleep and dw^ell, in places where they can find 
water, as on the Red Sea or elsewhere ; for in that desert 
there is great want of water, and it often happens that where 
men find water at one time in a place, there is none at another 
time; and for that reason they make no habitations there. 
These people do not till the ground nor labour ; for they eat 
no bread, except it be those wdio dwell near a good town, who 
go thither and eat bread sometimes. They roast their flesh 
and fish on the hot stones in the sun ; and they are strong 
and warlike men, and there is so great a multitude of them 
that they are without number. Their only occupation is to 
hunt animals for their food. They care not for their lives, 
and therefore they fear not the sultan nor any other prince ; but 
dare to war with all princes who do them any grievance ; and 
they are often at war with the sultaYi, as they were at the time 
I was with him. They carry but one shield and one spear, 
without other arms ; they wTap their heads and necks with a 
great quantity of white linen cloth ; and they are right 
felonious and foul, and of a cursed nature. 

When you pass this desert, on the way to Jerusalem, you 
come to Beersheba, w^hich w^as formerly a very fair and 
pleasant town of the Christians, some of whose churches still 
remain. In that town Abraham the Patriarch dwelt a long 
time. It was founded by Beersheba (Bathsheba), the wife of 
Sir Uriah, the knight, on whom king David begat Solomon the 
Wise, who was king, after David, over the twelve tribes of Jeru- 
salem, and reigned forty years. From thence we go to the city 
of Hebron, a distance of two good miles ; it was formerly called 


the Vale of Mamre, and sometimes the Vale of Tears, be- 
cause Adam wept there a hundred years for the death of 
Abel, his son, whom Cain slew. Hebron was the principal 
city of the Philistines, and was inhabited some time by 
giants. And it was a sacerdotal city, that is, a sanctuary, 
of the tribe of Judah ; and was so free, that all manner of 
fugitives from other places, for their evil deeds, were received 
there. In Hebron, Joshua, Calephe, and their company, 
came first to espy how they might win the Land of Promise. 
Here king David first reigned, seven years and a half; and 
in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years and a half. In 
Hebron are all the sepulchres of the patriarchs, Adam, 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and their waves. Eve, Sarah, 
Eebecca, and Leah : which sepulchres the Saracens keep very 
carefully, for they hold the place in great reverence, on ac- 
count of the holy fathers, the patriarchs, that lie there. And 
they suffer no Christian to enter that place, except by special 
grace of the sultan ; for they hold Christians and Jews as 
dogs, and say that they should not enter into so holy a place. 
And they call that place where they lie Double Spelunk, 
or Double Cave, or Double Ditch, because the one lies above 
the other. And the Saracens call the place in their lan- 
guage Karicarba, that is, the Place of Patriarchs. The Jews 
call it Arbothe. And in that same place was Abraham's 
house, and there he sat and saw three persons, and wor- 
shipped but one : as Holy Writ saith, He saw three, and 
worshipped one: and at tbe same place Abraham received the 
angels into his house. Close by that place is a cave in the 
rock, where Adam and Eve dwelt when they were put out 
of Paradise, and there they begat their children. And in 
that same place was Adam formed and made, as some men 
say ; for they used to call that place the Field of Damascus, 
because it was in the lordship of Damascus. And from 
thence he was translated into Paradise, as they say; and 
after he was driven out of Paradise he was left there. Here 
begins the Vale of Hebron, which extends nearly to Jerusa- 
lem. There the angel commanded Adam that he should 
dwell with his wife Eve, on whom he begat Seth, of which 
tribe Jesus Christ was born. In that valley is a field where 
men draw out of the earth a thing they call cambylle, which 
they eat instead of spice, and they carry it to sell. And 
men may not make the hole where it is taken out of the 


1.62 , SIR JOHN MAUNDEVJLLE. [a.D. 1322. 

earth so deep or wide, but at the year s end it is full again 
up to the sides, through the grace of God. . 

Two miles from Hebron is the grave of Lot, Abraham's 
brother. And a little from Hebron is the mount of Mamre, 
from which the valley takes its name. And there is an oak 
tree which the Saracens call dirpe, which is of Abraham's 
time ; and people call it the dry tree. They say that it has 
been there since the beginning of the world, and that it was 
once green and bore leaves, till the time that our Lord died 
on the cross, and then it dried; and so did all the trees 
that were then in the world. And there is a prophecy, that 
a lord, a prince of the west side of the world, shall win 
the Land of Promise, that is, the Holy Land, with the help 
of the Christians ; and he shall cause mass to be performed 
under that dry tree, and then the tree shall become green and 
bear both fruit and leaves. And through that miracle many 
Saracens and Jews shall be converted to the Christian faith. 
And, therefore, they do great worship thereto, and guard it 
very sedulously. And although it be dry, still it has great 
virtue ; for, certainly, he that hath a little thereof upon 
him, it heals him of the falling evil, and his horse shall not 
be afoundered ; and many other virtues it hath, on account of 
which it is highly esteemed. 

From Hebron we proceed to Bethlehem, in half a day, 
for it is but five miles ; and it is a very fair way, by pleasant 
plains and woods. Bethlehem is a little city, long and 
narrow, and well walled, and on each side inclosed with good 
ditches. It was formerly called Ephrata, as Holy Writ says, 
*'Lo, we heard it at Ephrata. "^-^ And towards the east end 
of the city is a very fair and handsome church, with many 
towers, pinnacles, and corners strongly and curiously made ; 
and within are forty-four great and fair pillars of marble. 
And between the city and the church is the Field Floridiis, 
that is to say, the field flourished; for a fair maiden was 
blamed with wrong, and slandered, that she had committed 
fornication, for which cause she was condemned to be burnt 
in that place ; and as the fire began to burn about her, she 
made her prayers to our Lord, that as truly as she was not 
■ guilty, he would by his merciful grace help her, and make 
it known to all men. And when she had thus said, she 

* Psalms, cxxxii. 6. 


entered into the fire, and immediately the lire was extin- 
guished, and the faggots that were burning became red rose- 
bushes, and those that were not kindled became white rose- 
bushes, full of roses. And these were the first rose-trees 
and roses, both white and red, that ever any man saw. And 
thus was this maiden saved by the grace of God. And 
therefore is that field called the field that God flourished, 
for it was full of roses. Also near the choir of the church, at 
the right side, as men go down sixteen steps, is the place 
where our Lord was born ; which is full well made of marble, 
and full richly painted with gold, silver, azure, and other 
colours. And three paces from it is the crib of the ox 
and the ass. And beside that is the place where the 
star fell, which led the three kings, Jaspar, Melchior, and 
Balthazar: but the Greeks call them Galgalathe, Malga- 
lathe, and Saraphie : and the Jews call them in Hebrew 
Appelius, Amerrius, and Damasus. These three kings 
offered to our Lord gold, incense, and myrrh ; and they met 
together by a miracle of God, for they met together in a 
city in India called Cassak, which is fifty- three days' from 
Bethlehem, and yet they arrived at Bethlehem on the thir- 
teenth day, which was the fourth day after they had seen the 
star, when they met in that city ; and thus they were nine 
days from that city to Bethlehem : and that was a great 
miracle^. Also, under the cloister of the church, by eight- 
teen steps at the right side, is the charnel-house of the 
Innocents, v/here their bones lie. x\nd before the place 
where our Lord was born is the tomb of St. Jerome, who 
was a priest and cardinal, and translated the Bible and 
Psalter from Hebrew into Latin ; and without the church is 
the chair that he sat in when he translated it. And close by 
that church, at a distance of sixty fathoms, is a church of St. 
Nicholas, where our Lady rested after she was delivered of 
our Lord. And forasmuch as she had too much milk in 
her breasts, which grieved her, she milked them on the red 
stones of marble ; so that the traces may yet be seen ail 
white in the stones. And you must understand that all who 
dwell in Bethlehem are Christians. And there are fair 
vineyards about the city, and great plenty of wine, which the 

* The medieval legendary history of the three kings will be found printed 
at the end of the first volume of the " Chester Mysteries." 

M 2 

,164 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

Christians make. But the Saracens neither cultivate vines 
nor drink wine ; for their books of their law, that Mohammed 
gave them, which they call their Alkoran, (and some call it 
Mesaphe, and in another language it is called Harme,) forbids 
them to drink wine. For in that book Mohammed cursed all 
who drink wine, and all who sell it. For some men say 
that he slew once a hermit, whom he loved much, in his 
drunkenness ; and therefore he cursed wine and them that 
drink it. And also, the Saracens breed no pigs and they eat 
no swine's flesh, for they say it is brother to man, and it was 
forbidden by the old law ; and they hold all accursed who eat 
thereof. Also, in the land of Palestine and in the land of 
Egypt, they eat but little or no veal or beef, except when 
the animal is old, that he may work no more ; for it is for- 
bidden, because they have but few of them, and they keep 
them to plough their lands. In this city of Bethlehem was 
David the king born, and he had sixty wives ; and the first 
wife was called Michal : and also he had three hundred 

From Bethlehem to Jerusalem it is but two miles. And 
in the w^ay to Jerusalem, half a mile from Bethlehem, is a 
church, where the angel announced to the shepherds the 
birth of Christ. And in that way is the tomb of Rachel, the 
mother of Joseph the patriarch, who died immediately after 
she was delivered of her son Benjamin ; and there she was 
buried by Jacob, her husband, and he caused twelve great 
stones to be placed over her, in token that she had borne 
twelve^ children. In the same way, half a mile from Jeru- 
salem, the star appeared to the three kings. In that way 
also are many churches of Christians, by which men. go 
towards the city of Jerusalem. 

Chapter VII. 


Jerusalem, the holy city, stands full fair between hills ; and 
there are no rivers or w^ells, but w^ater comes by conduit from 
Hebron. And you must know that Jerusalem of old, until 
the time of Melchisedek, was called Jehus ; and afterwards it 
was called Salem, until the time of king David, who put these 

* Rachel had but two children, Joseph and Benjamin ; but by them she 
had twelve grandchildren. Gren. xlvi. 20 — 22. 

A.D. 13Q2.] JERUSALEM. 165 

two names together, and called it Jebusalem ; and after that 
king Solomon called it Jerosoluma ; and after that it was 
called Jerusalem, and so it is called still. Around Jerusalem 
is the kingdom of Syria ; and there beside is the land of Pa- 
lestine ; and beside it is Ascalon ; and beside that is the land 
of Maritaine. But Jerusalem is in the land of Judea ; and 
it is called Judea, because Judas Maccabeus was king of that 
country. And it borders eastward on the kingdom of Arabia ; 
to the south, on the land of Egypt ; to the west, on the great 
sea; and to the north, towards Syria, on the sea of Cyprus. 
In Jerusalem was formerly a patriarch, with archbishops and 
bishops about in the country. Around Jerusalem are these 
cities : Hebron, seven miles ; Jericho, six miles ; Beersheba, 
eight miles ; Ascalon, seventeen miles ; Jaffa, sixteen miles ; 
Eamatha, three miles; and Bethlehem, two miles. And two 
miles from Bethlehem, towards the south, is the church of 
St. Karitot, who was abbot there; for whom they made great 
lamentation among the monks when he died ; and they continue 
still in mourning in the manner that they made their lament- 
ation for him the first time ; and it is very sad to behold. 

This country and land of Jerusalem hath been in the hands of 
many different nations, and often, therefore, hath the country 
suffered much tribulation for the sin of the people that dwell 
there. For that country hath been in the hands of all na- 
tions ; that is to say, of Jews, Canaanites, Assyrians, Per- 
sians, Modes, Macedonians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, 
Saracens, Barbarians, Turks, Tartars, and of many other dif- 
ferent nations ; for God will not let it remain long in the 
hands of traitors or of sinners, be they Christians or others. 
And now the heathens have held that land in their hands forty 
years and more-^ ; but they shall not hold it long, if God will. 

When men come to Jerusalem, their first pilgrimage is to 
the church of the holy sepulchre, where our Lord was buried, 
which is without the city on the north side ; but it is now 
inclosed by the town wall. And there is a very fair church, 
round, and open above, and covered in its circuit with lead ; 
and on the west side is a fair and high tower for bells, strongly 
made ; and in the middle of the church is a tabernacle, as it 
were a little house, made with a little low door; and that 

* Perhaps Maundeville reckons from the capture of Acre, in 1291, when 
the Christians lost their last footing in the Holy Land. Jerusalem was finally 
taken from the Christians by the Turks in October, 1244. 

166 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVCLLE. [a.D. 1322. 

tabernacle is made in manner of half a compass, right curiously 
and richly made of gold and azure and other rich colours. 
And in the right side of that tabernacle is the sepulchre of our 
Lord ; and the tabernacle is eight feet long, and five wide, 
and eleven in height ; and it is not long since the sepulchre 
was all open, that men might kiss it and touch it. But be- 
cause pilgrims that came thither laboured to break the stone 
in pieces or in powder, therefore the sultan has caused a 
wall to be made round the sepulchre, that no man may touch 
it. In the left side of the wall of the tabernacle, about the 
height of a man, is a great stone, the magnitude of a man's 
head, that was of the holy sepulchre ; and that stone the 
pilgrims that come thither kiss. In that tabernacle are no 
windows ; but it is all made light with lamps which hang 
before the sepulchre. And there is one lamp which hangs 
before the sepulchre which burns bright; and on Good Friday 
it goes out of itself, and lights again by itself at the hour that 
our Lord rose from the dead. Also, within the church, at the 
right side, near the choir of the church, is Mount Calvary, 
where our Lord was placed on the cross. It is a rock of a 
white colour, a little mixed with red ; and the cross was set in 
a mortise in the same rock ; and on that rock dropped the 
blood from the wounds of our Lord when he was punished on 
the cross ; and that is called Golgotha. And they go up to 
that Golgotha by steps ; and in the place of that mortise 
Adam's head was found, after Noah's flood, in token that the 
sins of Adam should be redeemed in that same place. And 
upon that rock Abraham made sacrifice to our Lord. And 
there is an altar, before which lie Godfrey de Boulogne and 
Baldwin, and other Christian kings of Jerusalem ; and near 
where our Lord was crucified is this written in Greek: 

— that is to say, in Latin, " Deus Rex noster ante secula 
operatus est salutem in medio terrse ;" in English, " God 
our king, before the worlds, hath wrought salvation in the 
midst of the earth." And also on the rock where the cross 
was set is written, within the rock, these words : "o £i<^£u, eVt* 

,/?ao-K T^J? ir'^rrr^-uq oKric, rov koct^ov tovtoV that is tO Say, in 

Latin, " Quod vides, est fundamentum totius fidei hujus 
mundi ;" in English, " What thou seest, is the ground of all 
the faith of this world." And you shall understand that 
when our Lord was placed on the cross he was thirty- three 


years and three montlas old. Also, within Mount Calvary, 
on the right side, is an altar, where the pillar lieth to which 
our Lord Jesus was bound when he was scourged ; and there, 
besides, are four pillars of stone that always drop water ; and 
some men say that they weep for our Lord s death. Near 
that altar is a place under earth, forty-two steps in depth, 
where the holy cross was found by the wisdom of St. Helena, 
under a rock, where the Jews had hid it. And thus was the 
true cross assayed ; for they found three crosses, one of our 
Lord, and two of the two thieves ; and St. Helena placed a 
dead body on them, which arose from death to life when it was 
laid on that on which our Lord died. And thereby, in the wall, 
is the place where the four nails of our Lord were hid ; for he 
had two in his hands and two in his feet ; aud of one of these 
the emperor of Constantinople made a bridle to his horse, to 
carry him in battle ; and through virtue thereof he overcame 
his enemies, and won all the land of Lesser Asia, that is to 
say, Turkey, Armenia the Less and the Greater, and from 
Syria to Jerusalem, from Arabia to Persia, from Mesopotamia 
to the kingdom of Aleppo, from Upper and Lower Egypt, and 
all the other kingdoms, unto the extremity of Ethiopia, and 
into India the Less, that was then Christian. And there were, 
in that time, many good holy men, and holy hermits, of whom 
the Book of Lives of Fathers ^^ speaks ; but they are now in the 
hands of Pagans and Saracens. But when God Almight}^ will, 
as the lands were lost through sin of the Christians, so shall 
they be won again by Christians through help of God. And 
in the midst of that church is a compass, in which Joseph of 
Arimathea laid the body of our Lord when he had taken him 
down from the cross ; and there he washed the wounds of our 
Lord. And that compass, men say, is the middle of the 
world f. And in the church of the sepulchre, on the north 
side, is the place where our Lord was put in prison (for he 
w^as in prison in many places) ; and there is a part of the 
chain with which he was bound ; and there he appeared first 
to Mary Magdalene when he was risen, and she thought that 
he had been a gardener. In the church of St. Sepulchre 
there were formerly canons of the order of St. Augustin, who 
had a prior, but the patriarch was their head. And outside 

* The Vitas Patrum was the most popular collection of saints' legends in 
the middle ages. 

f See before, pp. 4, 38. 

168 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 132*2. 

the doors of the church, on the right side, as men go upward 
eighteen steps, is the spot where our Lord said to his mother, 
"Woman, behold thy son!" And after that, he said to John 
his disciple, "Behold thy mother ! "-i'^ And these words he 
said on the cross. And on these steps went our Lord when 
he bare the cross on his shoulder. And under these steps is 
a chapel ; and in that chapel sing priests of India, not after 
our law, but after theirs ; and they always make their sacra- 
ment of the altar, saying Pater iioster, and other prayers 
therewith, with which prayers they say the words that the 
sacrament is made of ; for they know not the additions that 
many popes have made ; but they sing with good devotion. 
And near there is the place where our Lord rested him when 
he was weary for bearing of the cross. Before the church of 
the sepulchre the city is weaker than in any other part, for 
the great plain that is between the church and the city. And 
towards the east side, without the walls of the city, is the vale 
of Jehoshaphat, which adjoins to the w^alls as though it W'cre a 
large ditch. And over against that vale of Jehoshaphat, out 
of the city, is the church of St. Stephen, where he was stoned 
to death. And there beside is the golden gate, which m y 
not be opened, by which gate our Lord entered on Palm Sunday, 
upon an ass ; and the gate opened to him when he would go 
unto the temple ; and the marks of the ass's feet are still seen 
in three places on the steps, which are of very hard stone. 
Before the church of St. Sepulchre, two hundred paces to the 
south, is the great hospital of St. John, of which the Hospi- 
tallers had their foundation. And within the palace of the 
sick men of that hospital are one hundred and twenty-four 
pillars of stone ; and in the walls of the house, besides the 
number aforesaid, there are fifty-four pillars that support the 
house. From that hospital, going towards the east, is a very 
fair church, which is called Our Lady the Great ; and after it 
there is another church, very near, called Our Lady the Latin ; 
and there stood Mary Cleophas and Mary Magdalene, and tore 
their hair, when our Lord was executed on the cross. 

* John, xix. 26. 


Chapter VIII. 


One hundred and sixty paces from tlie church of the Sepul- 
chre, towards the east, is the temple of our Lord. It is a 
very fair house, circular and lofty, and covered with lead, and 
well paved with white marble ; but the Saracens will not 
suffer any Christians or Jews to come therein, for they say 
that no such foul sinful men should come into so holy a 
place : but I went in there, and in other places where I 
would, because I had letters of the sultan, with his great seal, 
and other men have commonly but his signet. In these 
letters he commanded, of his special grace, to all his sub- 
jects, to let me see all the places, and to inform me fully of 
all the mysteries of every place, and to conduct me from city 
to city if necessary, and to receive me and my company 
courteously, and obey all my reasonable requests if they were 
not contrary to the royal power and dignity of the sultan or 
of his law. x\nd to others, who have served him and ask him 
grace, he gives only his signet, which they cause to be borne 
before them, hanging on a spear, and the people of the 
country do great worship and reverence to his signet or his 
seal, and kneel thereto as lowly as we do to the procession of 
the Host. But they show much greater reverence to his 
letters, for the admiral, and all other lords to whom they are 
shown, kneel down before they receive them, and then they take 
them, and put them on their heads, and after they kiss them, 
and then they read them, kneeling with great reverence ; and 
then they offer themselves to do all the bearer asks. And in 
this temple of our Lord were formerly canons regular, who 
had an abbot to whom they were obedient. And in this temple 
was Charlemagne, when the angel brought him the prepuce of 
the circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ, which king Charles 
caused to be brought to Paris, to his chapel ; and after that 
he sent it to Poictiers, and after that to Chartres. 

You must know that this is not the temple that Solomon 
made, which lasted only one thousand one hundred and two 
years. For Titus, the son of Vespasian, emperor of Rome, 
had laid siege about Jerusalem to overcome the Jews, because 
they put our Lord to death without the emperor's leave. 
And when he had won the city, he burnt the temple and beat 


it down and all the city, and took the Jews, and put to death 
one million one hundred thousand of them ; and the others 
he put in prison, and sold them to slavery thirty for a penny, 
because they said they bought Jesus for thirty pennies ; and 
he sold them cheaper, giving thirty for one penny. After 
that, Julian the Apostate, when emperor, gave the Jews per- 
mission to make the temple of Jerusalem, for he hated the 
Christians although he had been christened ; but he forsook 
his law, and became a renegade. And when the Jews had 
made the temple, an earthquake came and cast it down (as 
God would), and destroyed all that they had made. And 
after that, Hadrian, who w^as emperor of Rome, and of the 
lineage of Troy, rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, in the 
same manner as Solomon made it. And he would not suffer 
Jews to dwell there, but only Christians. For although he 
was not christened, yet he loved Christians more than any 
other nation, except his own. This emperor caused the 
church of St. Sepulchre to be inclosed within the city walls ; 
before, it was without the city. And he would have changed 
the name of Jerusalem, and called it ^Si^lia, but that name 
lasted not long. The Saracens continue to show much reve- 
rence to that temple, and say that the place is very holy. 
And when they go in they go barefooted, and kneel many 
times. And when my fellows and I saw that, when we came 
in we took off our shoes, and entered barefooted, and thought 
w^e would do as much worship and reverence there as any of 
the misbelieving men, with as great compunction of heart. 
This temple is sixty-four cubits wide, and as many in length, 
and a hundred and twenty cubits high ; and within it has 
pillars of marble all round ; and in the middle of the temple 
are many high stages, fourteen steps high, with good pillars all 
about, and this place the Jews call the holy of holies. No man, 
except the prelate of the Saracens, who makes their sacrifice, is 
allowed to come in there. And the people stand all about, in 
divers stages, according to their dignity or rank, so that they may 
all see the sacrifice. And in that temple are four entrances, 
with gates of cypress, well made and curiously wrought. 
Within the east gate is the place where our Lord said 
" Here is Jerusalem." And on the north side of the temple, 
within the gate, there is a well, but it does not run ; of this 
Holy Writ speaks, and says, " I saw water come out of the 
temple." And on the other side of the temple there is a 


rock which men call Moriah, hut after it was called Bethel, 
where the ark of God, with relics of Jews, was wont to be put. 
That ark or hutch, with the relics, Titus carried with him to 
Eome, when he had overthrown the Jews ; it contained the 
ten commandments, Aaron's rod, and that of Moses, with 
which he made the Red Sea divide as it had been a wall, on 
the right side and on the left, while the people of Israel 
passed the sea dry-foot. And with that rod he smote the 
rock, and the water came out of it ; and with that rod he did 
many other wonders. And therein was a vessel of gold, fall 
ofmanna, and clothings, and ornaments, and the tabernacle of 
Aaron, and a square tabernacle of gold, with twelve precious 
stones, and a box of green jasper, with four figures, and eight 
names of our Lord, and seven candlesticks of gold, and 
twelve pots of gold, and four censers of gold, and an altar of 
gold, and four lions of gold, which bare cherubim of gold 
twelve spans long, and the circle of swans of heaven, with a 
tabernacle of gold, and a table of silver, and two trumpets of 
silver, and seven barley loaves, and all the other relics that 
were before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. And Jacob 
was sleeping upon that rock when he saw the angels go up and 
down by a ladder, and he said, '* Surely the Lord is in this 
place ; and I knew it not."^ And there an angel held Jacob 
still, and changed his name, and called him Israel. And in 
that same place David saw the angel that smote the people 
with a sword, and put it up bloody in the sheath. And St. 
Simeon was on that same rock when he received our Lord 
into the temple. And in this rock he placed himself when 
the Jews would have stoned him ; and a star came down and 
gave him light. On that rock our Lord preached frequently 
to the people ; and out of that same temple our Lord drove 
the buyers and sellers. Upon that rock also our Lord set 
him when the Jews would have stoned him ; and the rock 
clave in two, and in that cleft was our Lord hid ; and there 
came down a star and gave him light ; and upon that rock our 
Lady sat and learned her Psalter ; and there our Lord forgave 
the woman her sins that was found in adultery; and there our 
Lord was circumcised; and there the angel gave tidings to 
Zacharias of the birth of St. John the Baptist his son ; and 
there first Melchisedek offered bread and wine to our Lord, in 

* Gen. xxviii. 16. 


token of the sacrament that was to come ; and there David 
fell down praymg to our Lord, and to the angel that smote the 
people, that he would have mercy on him and on the people ; 
and our Lord heard his prayer, and therefore would he make 
the temple in that place ; but our Lord forbade him, by an 
angel, because he had done treason, when he caused Uriah, 
the worthy knight, to be slain, to have Bathsheba, his wife ; 
and therefore all the materials he had collected for the build- 
ing of the temple he gave to Solomon, his son, and he built 
it. Without the gate of that temple is an altar, where the 
Jews were wont to offer doves and turtles. And betweeu the 
temple and that altar vvas Zacharias slain. Upon the pinnacle 
of that temple was our Lord brought to be tempted by the fiend. 
And on the top of that pinnacle the Jews placed St. James, 
who was first bishop of Jerusalem, and cast him down to the 
earth. At the entry of the temple, towards the west, is the 
gate that is called the Beautiful Gate. And near the temple, 
on the right, is a church covered with lead, called Solomon's 
school. And near the temple, on the south, is the temple of Solo- 
mon, which is very fair and well polished. And in that temple 
dwelt the knights of the temple, that were called Templars ; 
and that was the foundation of their order ; so that knights 
dwelt there, and canons regular, in the temple of our Lord. 
One hundred and twenty paces from that temple to the east, 
in the corner of the city, is the bath of our Lord ; and in that 
bath water was wont to come from Paradise, and still it drop- 
peth. And there beside is our Lady's bed. And fast by is 
the temple of St. Simeon ; and without the cloister of the 
temple, toward the north, is a very fair church of St. Anne, our 
Lady's mother ; and there our Lady was conceived. And 
before that church is a great tree, which began to grow the 
same night. And under that church, in going down by twenty- 
two steps, lies Joachim, our Lady's father, in a fair tomb of 
stone ; and there beside lay sometime St. Anne his wife ; but 
St. Helena caused her to be translated to Constantinople. 
And in that church is a well, in manner of a cistern, which is 
called Probatica Piscina, which hath five entrances. Angels 
used to come from heaven into that well and bathe them in it, 
and the man who first bathed after the moving of the water 
was made whole of whatever sickness he had ; and there our 

* Acts, iii. 2, 


Lord healed a man of the palsy, with which he had lain 
thirty-eight years; and our Lord said to him, "Take up thy 
bed and go."* And near it was Pilate's house. And fast by 
is king Herod's house, who caused the Innocents to be slain. 
This Herod was excessively wicked and cruel ; for first he 
caused his wife to be killed, whom he loved well ; and for the 
great love he had to her, when he saw her dead, he fell in a 
rage, and was out of his mind a great while ; and after he 
recovered, he caused his two sons, whom he had by that wife, 
to be slain ; and after that he killed another of his wives, and 
a son that he had by her ; and after that he put to death his 
own mother, and he would have slain his brother also, but he 
died suddenly. And after he fell into sickness, and when he 
felt that he should die, he sent for his sister, and for all the 
lords of his land, and sent them to prison; and then he said to 
his sister, he knew well that people would make no sorrow for 
his death, and therefore he made his sister swear, that she 
should cause all the heads of the lords to be struck off when 
he was dead, that all the land might make sorrow for his 
death. But his sister fulfilled not his will ; for as soon as he 
was dead she delivered all the lords out of prison, and told 
them all the purpose of her brother s ordinance ; and so this 
cursed king was never made sorrow for. And you must know 
that at that time there were three Herods, of great fame for 
their cruelty. This Herod of which I have spoken was 
Herod the Ascalonite ; and he that caused St. John the 
Baptist to be beheaded was Herod Antipas ; and he that 
caused St. James to be beheaded was Herod Agrippa; and he 
put St. Peter in prison. 

Furthermore, in the city is the church of St. Saviour, where 
is preserved the left arm of John Chrysostom, and the greater 
part of the head of St. Stephen. On the other side of the 
street, to the south, as men go to Mount Sion, is a church of 
St. James, where he was beheaded. And one hundred and 
twenty paces from that church is Mount Sion, where there is 
a fair church of our Lady, where she dwelt and died. And 
there was formerly an abbot of canons regular. From thence 
she was carried by the apostles to the valley of Jehoshaphat, 
and there is the stone which the angel brought to our Lady 
from Mount Sinai, which is of the same colour as the rock of 
St. Catherine. And near there is the gate through which 
* Matt. ix. 6. 


our Lady passed, when she was with child, on her way to 
Bethlehem. Also, at the entrance of Mount Sion is a cha- 
pel in which is the great stone with which the sepulchre wds 
covered, when Joseph of Arimathea had put our Lord therein ; 
which stone the three Marys saw turned upward when they 
came to his sepulchre the day of his resurrection; and there- 
they found an angel, who told them of our Lord's resurrection 
from death to life. There also, in a wall beside the gate, is 
a stone of the pillar at which our Lord was scourged ; and 
there was the house of Annas, who was bishop of the Jews 
at that time ; and there our Lord was examined in the night, 
and scourged, and smitten, and violently treated. In that same 
place St. Peter forsook our Lord thrice before the cock crew. 
There is a part of the table on which he made his Supper, 
when he made his Maundy with his disciples, and gave 
them his flesh and his blood, in form of bread and wine. And 
under that chapel, by a descent of thirtj^-two steps, is the place 
where our Lord washed his disciples' feet, and the vessel which 
contained the water is still preserved; and there, beside that 
same vessel, was St. Stephen buried. And there is the altar 
where our Lord heard the angels sing mass. And there our 
Lord appeared first to his disciples after his resurrection, the 
doors being shut, and said to them, " Peace to you!" And on 
that mount Christ appeared to St. Thomas the Apostle, and 
bade him feel his wounds; and there he first believed, and 
said, " My Lord and my God." In the same church, beside 
the altar, were all the apostles on Whitsunday, when the Holy 
Ghost descended on them in likeness of fire. 

Mount Sion is within the city, and is a little higher 
than the other side of the city ; and the city is strongest on 
that side. For at the foot of Mount Sion is a fair and strong 
castle made by the sultan. In Mount Sion were buried 
king David and king Solomon, and many other Jewish kings 
of Jerusalem. And there is the place where the Jews would 
have cast up the body of our Lady, when the apostles carried 
the body to be buried in the valley of Jehoshaphat. And there 
is the place where St. Peter wept bitterly after he had for- 
saken our Lord. And a stone's cast from that chapel is 
another chapel, where our Lord was judged; for at that time 
the house of Caiaphas stood there. One hundred and forty 
paces from that chapel, to the east, is a deep cave under the 
rock, which is called the Galilee of our Lord, where St. Peter 


hid himself when he had forsaken our Lord. Between Mount 
Sion and the Temple of Solomon is the place where our Lord 
raised the maiden in her father's house. Under Mount Sion, 
towards the valley of Jehoshaphat, is a well called Natatorium 
Silose (the pool of Siloah), where our Lord was washed after his 
haptism; and there our Lord made the hlind man to see. 
There was buried Isaiah the prophet. Also straight from 
Natatorium Silose is an image of stone, and of ancient 
work, which Absalom caused to be made, on account of which 
they call it the hand of Absalom. And fast by is still the 
elder tree on which Judas hanged himself for despair, when he 
sold and betrayed our Lord. Near it was the synagogue, w^here 
the bishops of the Jews and the Pharisees came together and 
held their council, and where Judas cast the thirty pence 
before them, and said that he had sinned in betraying our 
Lord. And near it was the house of the apostles Philip and 
James the son of Alpheus. On the other side of Mount Sion, 
toward the south, a stone's cast beyond the vale, is Aceldama, 
that is, the field of blood, which was bought for the thirty 
pence for which our Lord was sold ; in which field are many 
tombs of Christians; for there are many pilgrims' graves. 
And there are many oratories, chapels, and hermitages, where 
hermits used to dwell. A hundred paces toward the east is 
the charnel-house of the hospital of St. John, where they used 
to put the bones of dead tnen. 

To the west of Jerusalem is a fair church, where the tree of 
the cross grew. And two miles from thence is a handsome 
church, where our Lady met with Elizabeth, when they were 
both with child ; and St. John stirred in his mother's womb, 
and made reverence to his Creator, whom he saw not. Under 
the altar of that church is the place where St. John was born. 
A mile from that church is the castle of Emmaus, where our 
Lord showed himself to two of his disciples after his resur- 
rection. Also on the other side, two hundred paces from 
Jerusalem, is a church, where was formerly the cave of the 
lion; and under that church, at thirt}^ steps deep, were 
interred twelve thousand martyrs, in the time of king Cosrhoes, 
that the lion met in a night, by the will of God. Tw^o miles 
from Jerusalem is Mount Joy, a very fair and delicious place. 
There Samuel the prophet lies, in a fair tomb ; and it is 
called Mount Joy, because it gives joy to pilgrims' hearts, for 
from that place men first see Jerusalem. Between Jerusalem 

176 ^ SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [A.D. 1322. 

and Mount Olivet is the valley of Jehoshaphat, under the walls 
of the city, as I have said before : and in the middle of the 
valley is a little river, which is called the brook Cedron ; and 
across it lies a tree (of which the cross was made), on which 
men passed over ; and fast by it is a little pit in the earth, 
where the foot of the pillar still remains at which our Lord 
was first scourged ; for he was scourged and shamefully 
treated in many places. Also in the middle of the valley of 
Jehoshaphat is the church of our Lady, which is forty-three 
steps below the sepulchre of our Lady, who was seventy-two 
years of age when she died. Beside the sepulchre of our 
Lady is an altar, where our Lord forgave St. Peter all his sins. 
From thence, toward the west, mider an altar, is a well which 
comes out of the river of Paradise. You must know that that 
church is very low in the earth, and a part is quite within the 
earth. But I imagine that it was not founded so ; but since 
Jerusalem has often been destroyed, and the walls beaten down 
and tumbled into the valley, and that they have been so filled 
again, and the ground raised, for that reason the church is so 
low within the earth. Nevertheless, men say there commonly, 
that the earth hath so been cloven since the time that our 
J^ady was buried there ; and men also say there, that it grows 
and increases every day, without doubt. In that church were 
formerly black monks, who had their abbot. Beside that 
church is a chapel, beside the rock called Gethsemane, where 
our Lord was kissed by Judas, and where he was taken by the 
Jews ; and there our Lord left his disciples when he went to 
pray before his passion,- when he prayed and said, " 0, my 
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me."* And 
when he came again to his disciples, he found them sleeping. 
And in the rock within the chapel we still see the mark of the 
fingers of our Lord s hand, when he put them on the rock when 
the Jews would have taken him. And a stone's cast from 
thence, to the south, is another chapel, where our Lord sweat 
drops of blood. And close to it is the tomb of king Jehoshaphat, 
from whom the valley takes its name. This Jehoshaphat was 
king of that country, and was converted by a hermit, who was a 
worthy man, and did much good. A bow-shot from thence, 
to the south, is the church w^here St. James and Zachariah the 
prophet were buried. Above the vale is Mount Olivet, so 

* Matt. xxvi. 39. 


called for the abundance of olives that grow there. That 
mount is higher than the city of Jerusalem ; and therefore 
from that mount v^e may see many of the streets of the city. 
Between that mount and the city is only the valley of Jehosha- 
phat, which is not wide. From that mount our Lord Jesus 
Christ ascended to heaven on Ascension Day, and yet there 
appears the imprint of his left foot in the stone. And there 
is a church where was formerly an abbot and canons regular. 
About twenty-eight paces thence is a chapel, in which is the 
stone on the which our Lord sat when he preached the eight 
blessings. And there he taught his disciples the pater noster, 
and wrote with his finger on a stone. And near it is a church 
of St. Mary, the Egyptian, where she lies in a tomb. Three 
bow-shots thence, to the east, is Bethphage, whither our Lord 
sent St. Peter and St. James on Palm Sunday to seek the ass on 
which he rode into Jerusalem. In descending from Mount 
Olivet, to the east, is a castle called Bethany, where dwelt 
Simon the leper; and there he entertained our Lord; and 
afterwards he was baptized by the apostles, and w^as called 
Julian, and was made bishop; and this is the same Julian 
to whom men pray for good entertainment, because our Lord 
was entertained by him in his house. In that house our Lord 
forgave Mary Magdalene her sins, and there she washed his 
feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. And 
there St. Martha w^aited upon our Lord. There our Lord 
raised Lazarus, who w^as dead four days and stank. There 
also dwelt Mary Cleophas. That castle is a mile from Jeru- 
salem. Also in coming down from Mount Olivet is the place 
where our Lord wept upon Jerusalem. And there beside is 
the place where our Lady appeared to St. Thomas the apostle 
after her assumption, and gave him her girdle. And very near 
it is the stone on which our Lord often sat when he preached ; 
and upon that same shall he sit at the day of doom, right as 
he said himself. 

After Mount OHvet is the Mount of Galilee, where the 
apostles assembled when Mary Magdalene came and told 
them of Christ's ascension. And there, between Mount 
Olivet and the Mount of Galilee, is a church, w^here the angel 
foretold our lady of her death. We next go from Bethany to 
Jericho, which was once a little city, but it is now destroyed, 
and is but a little village. Joshua took that city by miracle 
of God, and destroyed it and cursed it, and all them that 

179 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

should build it again. Of that city was Zaccheus, the dwarf, 
who climbed up into the sycamore tree to see our Lord, be- 
cause he was so little he might not see him for the people. 
And of that city was Rahab, the harlot, who alone escaped 
with her kinspeople ; and she often refreshed and fed the 
messengers of Israel, and kept them from many great perils 
of death ; and therefore she had good reward ; as holy writ 
saith, " He that receive th a prophet in the name of a pro- 
phet, shall receive a prophet's reward ;"^^ and so had she; for 
she prophesied to the messengers, saying, " I know that the 
Lord hath given you the land ;"f and so he did. From Be- 
thany you go to the river Jordan, by a mountain, and through 
a desert ; and it is nearly a day's journey from Bethany, to- 
ward the east, to a great hill, where our Lord fasted forty 
days. The devil carried our Lord upon that hill, and tempted 
him, and said, " Command that these stones be made bread. "| 
In that place, upon the hill, there was formerly a fair church, but 
it is entirely destroyed, so that there is now but a hermitage, 
occupied by a kind of Christians called Georgians, because 
St. George converted them §. Upon that hill dwelt Abraham a 
long while ; and therefore they call it Abraham's garden. 
Between the hill and this garden runs a little brook of water, 
which was formerly bitter, but, when blessed by the prophet 
Elisha, it became sweet and good to drink. At the foot of 
this hill toward the plain is a great well, which flows into the 
river Jordan. From that hill to Jericho is but a mile, in 
going toward the river Jordan, which is two miles beyond it ; 
and half a mile nearer is a fair church of St. John the Bap- 
tist, where he baptized our Lord ; and there beside is the house 
of Jeremiah the prophet. 

Chapter IX. 



From Jericho it is three miles to the Dead Sea. About 
that sea groweth much alum and alkatran |1. Between 

* Matth. X. 41. t Joshua, ii. 9. Ill Matth. iv. 3. 

§ This is a very ingenious attempt at derivation, like some others found 
in the book of Sir John Maundeville, who speaks again of the Georgian 
Christians at the end of Chapter X. 

II This word probably means bitumen. The Latin text has Dalem et 

A.D. 1322.] THE DEAD SEA. 179 

Jericho and that sea is the land of Dengadda, where formerly 
bahn grew; but men cause the branches to be drawn up 
and carried to Babylon, and still they call them vines of 
Gady. On the coast of that sea, as w^e go from Arabia, is the 
mount of the Moabites, where there is a cave which they call 
Karua. Upon that hill Balak, the son of Boaz, led Balaam 
the priest to curse the people of Israel. The Dead Sea divides 
the lands of India and Arabia, and the sea reaches from Soara 
to Arabia. The water of that sea is very bitter and salt, and 
if the earth were moistened with that water it would never 
bear fruit. And the earth and land changeth often its colour. 
The water casteth out a thing that is called asphalt, in pieces 
as large as a horse, every day and on all sides. From Jeru- 
salem to that sea is two hundred furlongs. That sea is in 
length five hundred and eighty furlongs, and in breadth one 
hundred and fifty furlongs, and is called the Dead Sea, be- 
cause it does not run, but is ever motionless. Neither man, 
beast, nor anything that hath life, may die in that sea ; and 
that hath been proved many times by men that have been 
condemned to death, who have been cast therein, and left 
therein three or four days, and they might never die therein, 
for it receiveth nothing within him that breatheth life. And 
no man may drink of the water on account of its bitterness. 
And if a man cast iron therein, it w^ill float on the surface; 
but if men cast a feather therein, it will sink to the bottom ; 
and these are things contrary to nature. And there beside 
grow trees that bear apples very fair of colour to behold ; but 
when we break or cut them in two we find within ashes 
and cinders, which is a token that by the wrath of God the 
cities and the land were burned and sunk into hell. Some call 
that sea the Lake Dasfetidee ; some, the River of Devils ; 
and some the river that is ever stinking. Into that sea, by 
the wrath of God, sunk the five cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, 
Aldama, Seboym, and Segor, for the abominable sin that 
reigned in them. But Segor, by the prayer of Lot, was saved 
and kept a great while, for it was set upon a hill, and some 
part of it still appears above the water; and men may see 
the walls when it is fair and clear weather. In that city Lot 
dwelt a little while; and there was he made drunk by his 

dalhetram; the French, De alym et dCalhetran. This would almost lead 
us to consider the French as the original text, from which the others were 

N 2 

180 SIE JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

daughters, and lay with them, and begat on them Moab and 
Amon. The hill above Segor was then called Edom, but 
afterw^ards men called it Seyr, and subsequently Idumea. 
At the right side of the Dead Sea the wife of Lot still stands 
in likeness of a salt stone, because she looked behind her 
when the cities sunk into hell. 

And you shall understand that the river Jordan runs into 
the Dead Sea, and there it dies, for it runs no further; and 
its entrance is a mile from the church of St. John the Bap- 
tist, toward the west, a little beneath the place where Chris- 
tians bathe commonly. A mile from the river Jordan is the 
river of Jabbok, which Jacob passed over when he came 
from Mesopotamia. This river Jordan is no great river, but 
it has plenty of good fish ; and it cometh out of the hill of 
Libanus by two wells, that are called Jor and Dan ; and of 
those two wells it hath its name. It passes by a lake called 
Maron ; and after, it passes through the sea of Tiberias and 
under the hills of Gilboa; and there is a very fair valley on 
both sides of the river. The hills of Libanus reach in length 
to the desert of Pharan. And these hills separate the kingdom 
of Syria and the country of Phoenicia. Upon these hills grow 
cedar trees, that are very high, and bear long apples, as great 
as a man s head. This river Jordan also separates the land of 
Galilee and the land of Idumea and the land of Betron ; and 
it runs under the earth a great way, unto a fair and great plain, 
which is called Meldan, in the language of Sarmoyz ; that is to 
say, a fair or market, in their language, because fairs are often 
held in that plain. And there becomes the water great and wide. 
That plain is the tomb of Job. About the river Jordan are 
many churches, where many Christian men dwelt. And near 
it is the city of Hay, which Joshua assailed and took. Also 
beyond the river Jordan is the valley of Mamre, and that is a 
very fair valley. Also upon the hill that I spoke of before, 
where our Lord fasted forty days, two miles from Galilee, is 
a fair and lofty hill, where the fiend carried our Lord, the 
third time, to tempt him, and showed him all the regions of 
the world, and said, "All this shall I give thee, if thou fall 
down and w^orship me." 

In going eastward from the Dead Sea, out of the borders 
of the Holy Land, is a strong and fair castle, on a hill w^hich 
is called Carak, in Sarmoyz ; that is to say. Royal. That 
castle was made by king Baldwin, when he had conquered 

A.D. 1322.J SAMARIA. 181 

that land, who put it into the hands of Christians, to keep 
that part of the country; and for that cause it was called the 
Mount Royal ^^ ; and under it there is a town called Sobache ; 
and there all about dwell Christians, under tribute. From 
thence men go to Nazareth, of which our Lord beareth the 
surname. And thence it is three days to Jerusalem : and 
men go by the province of Galilee, by Ramoth, by Sodom, 
and by the high hill of Ephraim, where Elkanah and Hannah, 
the mother of Samuel the prophet, dwelt. There this pro- 
phet was born ; and, after his death, he was buried at Mount 
Joy, as I have said before. And then men go to Shiloh, where 
the ark of God with the relics were long kept under Eli the 
prophet. There the people of Hebron sacrificed to our Lord; 
and there they yielded up their vows ; and there God first 
spake to Samuel, and showed him the change of the order of 
priesthood, and the mystery of the sacrament. And right 
nigh, on the left side, is Gibeon^ and Ramah, and Benjamin, 
of which Holy Writ speaketh. And after men go to Shechem, 
formerly called Sichar, which is in the province of the Sama- 
ritans ; and there is a very fair and fruitful vale, and there is 
a fair and good city, called Neapolis, whence it is a day's jour- 
ney to Jerusalem. And there is the well where our Lord 
spake to the woman of Samaria ; and there was wont to be a 
church, but it is beaten down. Beside that well k^ng Reho- 
boam caused two calves to be made of gold, and made them 
to be worshipped, and put the one at Dan and the other at 
Bethel. A mile from Sichar is the city of Deluze, in which 
Abraham dwelt a certain time. Shechem is ten miles from 
Jerusalem, and is called Neapolis, that is to say, the new 
city. And near it is the tomb of Joseph, the son of Jacob, 
w^ho governed Egypt ; for the Jews carried his bones from 
Egypt, and buried them there ; and thither the Jews go often- 
time in pilgrimage, with great devotion. In that city was 
Dinah, Jacob's daughter, ravished; for which her brethren 
slew many persons, and did many injuries to the city. And 
there beside is the hill of Gerizim, where the Samaritans 
make their sacrifice : on that hill would x\braham have sacri- 
ficed his son Isaac. And there beside is the valley of Dothan ; 

* Mount Royal, which stood in the immediate neighbourhood of the 
ancient Petra, was a place of some celebrity in the history of the crusades. 
It was said to have been impregnable from the strength of its position ; and 
it was only taken by Saladin, in 1187, by starving the garrison. 

182 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

and there is the cistern wherein Joseph was cast hy his 
brethren, when they sold him ; and that is two miles from 
Sichar. From thence we go to Samaria, which is now called 
Sebaste ; it is the chief city of that country, and is situated 
between the hill of Aygnes in a similar manner to Jerusalem. 
In that city was the sittings of the twelve tribes of Israel ; 
but the city is not now so great as it was formerly. There 
St. John the Baptist was buried, between two prophets, Elisha 
and Abdias ; but he was beheaded in the castle of Macharyme, 
near the Dead Sea; and after he was carried by his disciples, 
and buried at Samaria : and there Julian the Apostate caused 
him to be dug up, and burned his bones, and cast his ashes to 
the wind. But the finger that showed our Lord, saying, "Be- 
hold the Lamb of God ! " w^ould never burn, but is all whole ; 
St. Tecla, the holy virgin, caused that finger to be carried to 
the hill of Sebaste, and there men make great feast for it. In 
that place was wont to be a fair church; and many others there 
were, but they are all beaten down. There was wont to be 
the head of St. John the Baptist, inclosed in the wall ; but 
the emperor Theodosius had it drawn out, and found it wrap- 
ped in a little cloth, all bloody; and so he carried it to Con- 
stantinople ; and the hinder part of the head is still at Con- 
stantinople ; and the fore part of the head, to under the chin, 
is at Rome, under the church of St. Silvester, where are 
nuns ; and it is yet all broiled, as though it were half burnt ; 
for the emperor Julian above mentioned, of his wickedness 
and malice, burnt that part with the other bones, as may still 
be seen ; and this thing hath been proved both by popes and 
emperors. And the jaws beneath, which hold to the chin, 
and a part of the ashes, and the platter on which the head 
was laid when it was smitten off, are at Genoa; and the Ge- 
noese make a great feast in honour of it, and so do the Sara- 
cens also. And some men say that the head of St. John is 
at Amiens, in Picardy ; and other men say, that it is the head 
of St. John the bishop. I know not which is correct, but 
God knows; but however men worship it, the blessed St. 
John is satisfied. 

From this city of Sebaste unto Jerusalem it is twelve miles. 
And between the hills of that country there is a well that 
four times in the year changes its colour ; sometimes green, 
sometimes red, sometimes clear, and sometimes troubled; 
and men call that w^ell Job. And the people of that country, 


who are called Samaritans, were converted and baptized by 
the Apostles, but they hold not well their doctrine; and always 
they hold laws by themselves, varying from Christian men, 
from Saracens, Jews, and Pagans. The Samaritans believe 
well in one God ; and they say that there is only one God, 
who created all things, and judges all things ; and they hold 
the Bible according to the letter, and use the Psalter as the 
Jews do ; and they say that they are the right sons of God ; 
and, among all other folk, they say that they be best beloved 
of God, and that to them belongs the heritage that God pro- 
mised to his beloved children ; and they have also a different 
clothing and outward appearance from other people, for they 
wrap their heads in red linen cloth, as a distinction from others ; 
and the Saracens wrap their heads in white linen cloth ; and 
the Christian men that dwell in the country wrap them in 
blue of India, and the Jews in yellow cloth. In that country 
dwell many of the Jews, paying tribute as Christians do. 

Chapter X. 




From this country of the Samaritans men go to the plains of 
Galilee, and leave the hills on the one side. Galilee is one 
of the provinces of the Holy Land ; and in that province are 
the cities of Nain, and Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Beth- 
saida. In this Bethsaida St. Peter and St. Andrew were born. 
And four miles thence is Chorazin; and five miles from Cho- 
razin is the city of Kedar, whereof the Psalter speaketh : 
" I dwell in the tents of Kedar ^. In Chorazin shall Anti- 
christ be born, as some men say; and others say he shall be 
born in Babylon; for the prophet saith, "Out of Babylon 
shall come a serpent that shall devour all the world." This 
Antichrist shall be nourished in Bethsaida, and he shall reign 
in Capernaum; and therefore saith Holy Writ, "Woe unto 
thee, Chorazin ! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! and thou, Caper- 
naum."! And all these towns are in the land of Galilee; 

* Psalms, cxx. 5. 

f Luke, X. 13, 15. This is a curious example of the manner in which 
legends were raised on the misapplication of Scripture by the medieval 


and also Cana of Galilee is four miles from Nazareth, of 
■which city was Simon the Canaanite and his wife Cance, of 
whom the holy Evangelist speaks : there our Lord performed 
the first miracle at the wedding, when he turned water into 
wine. And at the extremity of Galilee, on the hills, was the 
ark of God taken ; and on the other side is Mount Hendor, or 
Hermon. And thereabout goeth the brook of Kishon ; and 
near there Baruch, who was son of Abimelech, with Deborah 
the prophetess, overcame the host of Idumea, when Sisera 
the king was slain by Jael, the wife of Heber, and Gideon 
drove beyond the river Jordan, by strength of the sword, Zeba 
and Zalmunna, and there he slew them. Also five miles from 
Nain is the city of Jezreel, which was formerly called Zarim, 
of which city Jezabel the wicked queen was lady and queen, 
who took away the vineyard of Naboth by force. Fast by 
that city is the field Mageddo, in which king Joras was 
slain by the king of Samaria, and after was carried and buried 
in Mount Sion. A mile from Jezreel are the hills of 
Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan, that were so fair, died; 
wherefore David cursed them, as Holy Writ saith: "Ye moun- 
tains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be 
rain, upon you. "-J'- A mile from the hills of Gilboa, to the 
east, is the city of Cyropolis, which was before called Bethsain ; 
and upon the walls of that city was the head of Saul hanged. 
After men go by the hills, beside the plains of Galilee, unto 
Nazareth, which was formerly a great and fair city, but now 
there is but a small village, and houses scattered here and 
there. It is not walled, but it is situated in a little valley, 
with hills all about. Here our Lady was born; but she 
was begotten at Jerusalem ; and because our Lady was born 
at Nazareth, therefore our Lord bare his surname of that town. 
There Joseph took our J_jady to wife, when she was fourteen 
years of age; and there Gabriel greeted our Lady, saying, 
" Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with theef." 
And this salutation was made on the site of a great altar of a 
fair church that stood there formerly, but it is now all down ; 
and they have made a little receptacle, near a pillar of that 
church, to receive the ofierings of pilgrims. And the Sara- 
cens keep that place full dearly, for the profit they have by 

theologians, who, in this respect, closely resembled the Talmudists among 
the Jews. 

* 2 Sam. i. 21. f Luke, i. 28. 


it ; and they are very wicked and cruel Saracens, and more 
spiteful than in any other place, and have destroyed all the 
churches. Near there is Gabriel's well, where our Lord 
was wont to bathe, when he was young ; and from that well 
he carried water often to his mother; and in that well she 
often washed the clothes of her son Jesus Christ ; and from 
Jerusalem thither is three days. Two miles from Nazareth 
is the city of Sephor, by the v/ay that goes from Nazareth to 
Acre. And half a mile from Nazareth is the leap of our 
Lord ; for the Jews led him upon a high rock, to make him 
leap down, and have slain him ; but Jesus passed amongst 
them, and leaped upon another rock ; and the steps of his feet 
are still to be seen in the rock where he alighted. And there- 
fore men say, when in travelling they are in fear of thieves 
or enemies, ^' Jesus autem transiens per medium illorum ihatf' 
that is to say, " But Jesus passing through the midst of them, 
went:" in token and remembrance that as our Lord passed 
, through the Jews' cruelty, and escaped safely from them, so 
surely may men escape the peril of thieves ; and then men 
say two verses of the Psalter three times: ''Irruat super eos 
formddo et j^ctvor, in magnitudine hrachii tui, Domine, Jiant 
inmobiles, quasi lapis, donee pertranseat populus tuus, Domine ; 
donee pertranseat populus tuus iste, quem possedisti.'' [" May 
fear and dread fall upon them ; by the greatness of thine arm, 
O Lord, let them be as still as a stone ; till thy people pass 
over, Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast pur- 
chased."] And then men may pass without peril ^^. And you 
shall understand, that our Lady had child when she was 
fifteen years old; and she was conversant with her son thirty- 
three years and three months. And after the passion of our 
Lord she lived twenty-four years f. 

* The foregoing passages of Scripture, repeated as directed in Latin, com- 
posed, in fact, the common charm against thieves and robbers ; and our fore- 
fathers seem to have had the simplicity to believe that, by a proper use of it, 
they were actually under those circumstances rendered invisible. The quo- 
tations are from Luke iv. 30; Exod. xv. 16. The latter is wrongly quoted 
from the Psalter. The misinterpretation of the first passage (it was believed 
that Jesus became invisible) appears to have arisen at a very early period. 

+ There was an immense mass of legendary matter of this kind current in 
the middle ages, with which it is necessary, in a certain degree, to be ac- 
quainted, in order to understand the literature and manners of our forefathers* 
It is to such legends that the old writers frequently allude when we suppose 
that they are merely misquoting Scripture. 


From Nazareth we go four miles to Mount Tabor, wliich is 
a very fair and lofty hill, where was formerly a town and 
many churches, but they are all destroyed ; but yet there is 
a place, which they call the School of God, where he was wont 
to teach his disciples, and told them the secrets of Heaven ^'. 
At the foot of that hill Melchisedek, who was king of Salem, 
met Abraham in the turning of the hill on his return from 
the battle, when he had slain Abimelech ; and this Melchi- 
sedek was both king and priest of Salem, which is now called 
Jerusalem. On that hill of Tabor our Lord transfigured him- 
self before St. Peter, St. John, and St. James ; and there they 
saw in spirit Moses and Elias the prophets, and therefore St. 
Peter said, " Lord, it is good for us to be here ; let us make 
here three tabernacles." On that hill and in that same place, 
at Doomsday, four angels shall blow with four trumpets, and 
raise all men that have suffered death since the world was 
created to life ; and they shall come in body and soul in 
judgment, before the face of our Lord, in the valley of Je- 
hoshaphat. And it shall be on Easter-day, the time of our 
Lord's resurrection ; and the judgment shall begin on the 
same hour that our Lord descended to hell and despoiled it ; 
for at that hour shall he despoil the world, and lead his chosen 
to bliss ; and the others shall be condemned to perpetual 
punishment ; and then shall every man have after his desert, 
either good or evil, unless the mercy of God exceed his 

A mile from Mount Tabor is Mount Hermon, and there 
was the city of Nain. Before the gate of that city our Lord 
raised the widow's son. Three miles from Nazareth is the 
castle of Saffra, of which were the sons of Zebedee and the 
sons of Alpheus. Also, seven miles from Nazareth, is Mount 
Cain, under which is a well, and beside that well, Lamech, 
Noah's father, slew Cain with an arrow. For this Cain went 
through briars and bushes as a wild beast ; and he had lived 
from the time of Adam, his father, unto the time of Noah ; 
and so he lived nearly two thousand years. And Lamech 
was blind for old age f . 

From Saffra we go to the sea of Galilee, and to the city of 

* This is of course a little more legend. The notion that there was a town 
on the summit of Mount Tabor is probably a mistake of our traveller. 

f This legend arose out of an interpretation given to Gen. iv. 23, 24. See, 
as an illustration, the scene in the " Coventry Mysteries," pp. 44-46, 


Tiberias, which is situated upon that sea. And although they 
call it a sea, it is neither sea, nor arm of the sea ; for it is but 
a stank of fresh water, which is in length one hundred furlongs, 
and in breadth forty furlongs ; and it hath in it great plenty 
of good fish, and the river Jordan runs through it. The city 
is not very great, but it has good baths. And where the river 
Jordan leaves the sea of Galilee is a great bridge, where they 
pass from the land of promise to the land of Bashan, and the 
land of Gerrasentz, which are about the river Jordan and the 
commencement of the sea of Tiberias. And from thence may 
men go to Damascus in three days, by the kingdom of Tra- 
conitis, which kingdom extends from Mount Hermon to the 
sea of Galilee, or the sea of Tiberias, or the sea of Genne- 
sareth, which are different names of this sea, or rather this 
stank of which I have spoken, which changes thus its name 
according to the names of the cities that are situated beside 
it. On that sea our Lord went dryfoot ; and there he took up 
St. Peter, when he began to sink in the sea, and said to him, 
*' thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? " * And 
after his resurrection our Lord appeared on that sea to his 
disciples, and bade them fish, and filled the net full of great 
fishes. In that sea our Lord rowed oftentime ; and there he 
called to him St. Peter, St. Andrew, and St. James and St. John, 
the sons of Zebedee. In that city of Tiberias is the table on 
which our Lord ate with his disciples after his resurrection; 
and they knew him in breaking of bread, as the Gospel 
saithf. And near the city of Tiberias is the hill where our 
Lord fed five thousand persons, vdth five barley loaves and 
tw^o fishes. In that city a man cast a burning dart in wrath 
after our Lord, and the head smote into the earth, and waxed 
green, and it grew to a great tree ; and it grows still, and the 
bark thereof is all like coals. Also in the head of that sea 
of Galilee, toward the north, is a strong and lofty castle, 
called Saphor ; and close by it is Capernaum: there is not so 
strong a castle within the land of promise ; and there is a 
good town beneath, also called Saphor. In that castle St. 
Anne, our Lady's mother, was born. And there, beneath, was 
the centurion's house. That country is. called the Galilee of 
the Gentiles, who were taken to tribute of Zebulon and Naph- 
thali. And in returning from that castle, at a distance of thirty 

* Matt. xiv. 31. f Luke, xxiv. 30. 

188 . . SIR JOHN MAUNDEYILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

miles, is the city of Dan, formerly called Belinas, or Cesarea 
Philippi, situated at the foot of the mountain of Libanus, 
where the river Jordan arises. There begins the land of 
promise, and it extends unto Beersheba, in length from north 
to south, and contains full one hundred and eighty miles ; 
and in breadth, that is, from Jericho to Jaffa, it contains forty 
miles of Lombardy, or of our country, which are also little 
miles. These are not miles of Gascony, or of Germany, 
where the miles are great miles. 

And you must know that the land of promise is in Syria. 
For the realm of Syria extends from the deserts of Arabia to 
Cilicia, which is Armenia the Great, that is to say, from 
south to north ; and from east to west it extends from the 
great deserts of Arabia to the west sea. But in that realm of 
Syria is the kingdom of Judea, and many other provinces, 
as Palestine, Galilee, Little Cilicia, and many others. In 
that country, and other countries beyond, they have a custom, 
when they make war, and when men besiege a city or castle, 
and they within dare not send out messengers with letters 
from lord to lord to ask succour, of binding their letters to the 
necks of pigeons, and letting them fly ; and the pigeons are so 
taught, that they fly with those letters to the very place that 
men would send them to. For they are fed in those places 
where they are sent to, and they naturally return to where 
they have been fed. 

And you shall understand that amongst the Saracens, in 
different parts, dwell many Christian men, of many kinds 
and different names, and all are baptized, and have different 
laws and different customs ; but all believe in God the 
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; but they always 
fail in some articles of our faith. Some of these are called 
Jacobites, because St. James converted them, and St. John 
baptized them. They say that a man shall make his confes- 
sion only to God, and not to a man ; for only to him should 
man acknowledge himself guilty of all that he hath misdoue ; 
and God ordained not, nor ever devised, nor the prophet 
either, that one man should confess himself to another (as 
they say), but only to God ; as Moses writeth in the Bible, 
and as David saith in the Psalter Book, " I will confess to 
thee, Lord, in my whole heart:" and " I acknowledge my 
sin unto thee:"^ and " Thou art my God, and I will confess 
* Psalms, xxxii. 5. 


to tliee :" and " Since the thoughts of man shall confess to 
thee," &c. For thev know all the Bible and the Psalter, and 
therefore allege they so the letter ; but they allege not the 
authorities thus in Latin, but in their language full openly ; 
and say well, that David and other prophets say it. Never- 
theless St. Austin, St. Gregory, and St. Hilary say dif- 
ferently. And on such authorities, they say, that only to 
God shall a man confess his faults, acknowledging himself 
guilty, and crying him mercy, and promising him to amend ; 
therefore when they will confess them, they take fire, and set 
it beside them, and cast therein powder of frankincense ; and 
in the smoke thereof they confess them to God, and cry him 
mercy. And true it is, that this confession was first and of 
nature ; but St. Peter the apostle, and they that came after 
him, have ordered to make confession to man ; and by good 
reason, for they perceived well, that no sickness was curable 
by good medicine laid thereto, unless men knew the nature 
of the malady ; and also no man may give fit medicine, unless 
he know the quality of the deed. 

There are others who are called Syrians, who hold the be- 
lief among us and the Greeks ; and they all use beards, as 
men of Greece do ; and they make the sacrament of unlea- 
vened bread ; and in their language they use the Saracenic 
letters, but in their theological mysteries they use Greek let- 
ters ; and they make their confession as the Jacobites do. 

There are others who are called Georgians, who w^ere con- 
verted by St. George, and they worship him more than any 
other saint, and to him they cry for help ; and they came out 
of the realm of Georgia. These people have their crowns 
shaven : the clerks have round crowns, and the laity have 
their crowns all square ; and they hold the same Christian 
doctrines as the Greeks, of whom I have spoken before-^. 

There are others who are called Christians of the girdle, 
because they are all girt above f; and there are others called 
Nestorians; and some are Arians, some Nubians, some of 
Greece, some of India, and some of Prester Johns land. 
And all these have many articles of our faith, and in others 
they differ from us. 

* See before, p. 178. 

t The khalif Motawakkel had, in a.d. 856, ordered the Christians and 
Jews to wear a broad girdle of leather ; and they have continued to wear it 
in the east till modern times. From that epoch the Christians of Syria, who 
were mostly Jacobites or Nestorians, were called Christians of the girdle. 


Chapter XT. 


Now that I have told you of some of the people in the countries 
before, I will turn again to my way to describe the road back. 
From the land of Gralilee, of which I have spoken, men come 
back to Damascus, which is a very fair and noble city, and full 
of all merchandise, and three days from the sea, and five days 
from Jerusalem. Men carry merchandise thither upon camels, 
mules, horses, dromedaries, and other beasts ; and thither 
come merchants by sea, from India, Persia, Chaldea, Armenia, 
and many other kingdoms. This city was founded by Helizeus 
Damascus, who was yeoman and steward to Abraham before 
Isaac was born ; for he expected to have been Abraham's heir, 
and he named the town after his surname, Damascus. And 
in that place, where Damascus was founded, Cain slew Abel 
his brother. And beside Damascus is Mount Seir, In that 
city of Damascus there is great plenty of wells ; and within 
the city and without are many fair gardens, with diversity of 
fruits. No other city can be compared with it for fair gardens 
for recreation. The city is great and full of people, and well 
walled with double walls, and it contains many physicians ; 
and St. Paul himself was there a physician, to keep men's 
bodies in health, before he was converted ; and after that he 
was physician of souls. And St. Luke the Evangelist was a 
disciple of St. Paul to learn physic, and many others ; for St. 
Paul held then a school of physic. And near Damascus he 
was converted ; and after his conversion he dwelt in that city 
three days, without sight and without meat or drink. And in 
those three days he was raised to heaven, and there he saw 
many secrets of our Lord. And close beside Damascus is the 
castle of Arkes, which is both fair and strong. From Damascus 
we return by our Lady of Sardenak, which is five miles on this 
side of Damascus ; and it is seated upon a rock, and is a very 
fair place, and appears like a castle, which it wai formerly; 
but it is now a very fair church ; and in it are Christian 
monks and nuns ; and there is a vault under the church where 
Christians dwell also ; and they have many good vines. In 
the church, behind the altar, in the wall, is a table of black 
wood, on which formerly was painted an image of our Lady, 
which turns into flesh ; but now the image appears but little. 


But evermore, through the grace of God, that table drops oil, 
as it were of olive. And there is a vessel of marble under 
the table, to receive the oil, of which they give to pilgrims ; 
for it healeth many sicknesses. And he that keepeth it cleanly 
a year, after that year it turneth into flesh and blood. 

Between the city of Dark and the city of Raphane is a river, 
which they call Sabatorye ; for on the Saturday ^^ it runs fast, 
and all the week else it standeth still, and runs nought or 
little. And there is another river that freezeth wonderfully 
fast in the night, and by day no frost is seen. And so men 
go by a city called Beruthe, on the coast of the sea, by which 
they go to Cyprus ; and they arrive at the port of Sur, or 
Tyre, and then to Cyprus. Or else men may go from the port 
of Tyre right w^ell, and come not to Cyprus, but arrive at some 
haven of Greece ; and then men come to this country by ways 
that I bave spoken of before. 

Now have I told you of ways by the which men go farthest 
and longest, as by Babylon and Mount Sinai, and many other 
places, through which lands men turn again to the land of 
promise. Now I will tell you the direct way to Jerusalem ; 
for some men will not pass it on account of the expense, or 
because they have no company, or for many other reasonable 
causes ; and therefore I will tell you briefly how a man may 
go wdth little expense and in a short time. A man who comes 
from the lands of the west, goes through France, Burgundy, 
and Lombardy, and to Venice, and to Genoa, or some other 
haven of the marshes, and taketh a ship there, and goes by 
sea to the isle of Gryflle ; and so he arrives in Greece, or in 
Port Moroche, or Valon, or Duras, or at some other haven, 
and lands to repose himself, and goes again to the sea, and 
arrives in Cyprus ; and comes not to the isle of Rhodes, but 
arrives at Famagosta, which is the chief haven of Cyprus, or 
else at Lamatoun, and then embarks again, and passes the haven 
of Tyre without landing ; and so passes by all the havens of that 
coast till he comes to Jafla, which is the nearest port to Jeru- 
salem, for it is only seven- and-twenty miles. And from Jaffa 
men go to the city of Ramla, which is but a short distance 
thence, and it is a fair city. And beside Ramla is a fair 
church of our Lady, where our Lord appeared to our Lady in 
the likeness that betokeneth the Trinity. And there, fast by, 
is a church of St. George, where his head was smitten off; 

* It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that salhatum, or dies 
sahbati, is the Latin for Saturday. 

192 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a D. 1 3'22. 

and then to tlie castle of Emmaus ; and then to Mount Joy ; 
and from thence pilgrims may first see Jerusalem. And then 
to Mount Modeyn, and then to Jerusalem. And at Mount 
Modeyn lies the prophet Maccabeus. And over Ramatha* is 
the town of Douke, whereof was Amos the good prophet. 

Another way. Forasmuch as many men may not bear the 
sea, but had rather go by land, although it be a more laborious 
journey, a man shall so go to one of the havens of Lombardy, 
Venice, or another; and he shall pass into Greece, through 
Port Moroche or another, and so he shall go to Constantinople. 
And he shall so pass the water called the Brace of St. George, 
which is an arm of the sea ; and from thence he shall come to 
Pulveralle, and thence to the castle of Cynople ; and from 
thence he shall go to Cappadocia, which is a great country, 
where there are many great hills. And he shall go through 
Turkey, and unto the city of Nice, which the Turks have 
taken from the emperor of Constantinople. It is a fair city, 
and wonderfully well walled ; and there is a river that is called 
the Laye ; and there men go by the Alps of Aryoprynant, and 
by the vales of Mallebrynez, and also the vale of Ernax ; and 
so to Antioch the Less, which is situated on the river Riclay. 
And thereabout are many good and fair hills, and many fair 
woods, and also wild beasts. 

And he that will go by another way, must go by the plains 
of Romania, coasting the sea. Upon that coast is a wonder- 
fully fair castle, which they call Florathe. And when w^e are 
out of those hills, we pass through a city called Maryoche and 
Arteyse, where there is a great bridge over the river of Feme, 
which men call Farfar ; and it is a great river, capable of ad- 
mitting ships. And beside the city of Damascus is a river that 
comes from the mountain of Libanus, which is called Albane. 
At the passing of this river St. Eustache lost his two sons, 
when he had lost his wife. And it goeth through the plain 
of Arthadoe, and so to the Red Sea ; and so men go unto the 
city of Phenne, and so to the city of Feme. Antioch is a 
very fair city, and well walled ; it is two miles long, and each 
pillar of the bridge there has a good tower ; and this is the best 
city of the kingdom of Syria. And from Antioch men may go to 
the city of Latuche (Latakij^ah), and then to Gebel (Jebili), and 
then to Tourtous (Tortosa) ; and thereby is the land of Cambre, 

* Ramali Gibeon, now El Jib. Douke is Ain Duk, the Greek Lmjc (see 
Robinson, ii. 308, 309). It requires considerable study and research to 
identify all the names mentioned by Maundeville in the sequel. 


where there is a strong castle, which they call Maubeke. And 
from Tourtous men go to Tripoli, on the sea ; and they go by sea 
unto Acre. From this place there are two w^ays to Jerusalem ; on 
the left we go first to Damas, by the river Jordan ; on the right 
we go through the land of Flagam, and so to the city of 
Caiphas (Caiffa), of which Caiaphas w^as lord ; and some call 
it the Castle of Pilgrims. And from thence it is four days 
to Jerusalem, passing through Cesarea Philippi, Jaffa, Kam- 
leh, and Emmaus. 

Now I have told you some of the ways by land and water, 
how men may go to Jerusalem ; but there are many other 
ways according to the countries from which they come. There 
is one way, all by land, to Jerusalem, without passing any 
. sea, which is from France or Flanders ; but that way is very 
long and perilous ; and therefore few go that way. It lies 
through Germany and Prussia, and so on to Tartary. This 
Tartary is held of the great chan. of whom I shall speak more 
afterwards ; and the lords of Tartary pay the great chan 
tribute. This is a very bad land, and sandy, and bears very 
little fruit; for there grows little corn, or wine, or beans, or 
peas ; but there are plenty of cattle; and men eat nothing but 
. flesh, without bread ; and they drink the broth, and also they 
drink milk. And they eat all manner of animals, such as 
dogs, cats, and rats. And they have little or no wood ; and 
therefore they warm and boil their meat with horse-dung, and 
cow-dung, and that of other beasts, dried by the sun; and 
princes and others eat but once a day, and that but little ; 
and they are very foul people, and of evil nature. And in 
summer, in all these countries, fall many tempests, and 
dreadful storms of thunder and lightning, which kill many 
people, and beasts also. And the temperature passes sud- 
denly from extreme heat to extreme cold. It is the foulest 
country, and the most cursed, and the poorest, that men know. 
And their prince, whom they call Batho, dwells at the city 
of Orda. And truly no good man would dwell in that country ; 
for it is not worthy for dogs to dwell in. It were a good 
country to sow thistles, and briars, and broom, and thorns ; 
and it is good for no other thing. There is some good land, 
but very little, as men say. I have not been in that country ; 
but I have been in other lands which border on those countries, 
and in the land of Eussia, and in Nyflan, and in the realm of 
Cracow, and Letto (Lithuania), and in Darestan, and in many 


194 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

other places which border on those parts ; but I never went 
by that way to Jerusalem, wherefore I cannot describe it from 
personal knowledge ; for no man may pass by that way well, 
except in time of winter, for the perilous waters and difficult 
marshes, which no man may pass except it be strong frost, and 
snow upon it ; for if the snow were not there, men might not 
go upon the ice. And it is full three days of such way to pass 
from Prussia to the inhabited land of the Saracens. And 
Christians who shall war against them every year must carry 
their victuals with them ; for they shall find no good there. 
And they must carry their victuals upon the ice, with cars 
that have no wheels, which they call sleighs ; and as long as 
their victuals last they may abide there, but no longer ; for 
there shall they find no body that will sell them any thing. 
And when the spies see any Christian men coming upon them, 
they run to the towns, and cry with a loud voice, " Kerra, kerra, 
kerra;" and then anon they arm and assemble together. 

And you shall understand that it freezeth more strongly in 
those countries than in this part of the world ; and therefore 
hath every man stoves in his house, and on those stoves they 
eat and do their occupations all that they may ; for that is in 
the northern parts, where there is but little sun ; and there- 
fore in the very north the land is so cold that no man may 
dwell there ; and, on the contrary, towards the south it is so 
hot that no man may dwell there, because there the sun is 
direct over head. 

Chapter XII. 


Now since I have spoken of Saracens and of their country, 
if you will know a part of their law and belief, I will tell 
you, according to their book, which is called Alkoran. And 
some call that book Meshaf; and some call it Harm, ac- 
cording to the different languages of the country. This 
book Mohammed gave them. In it, among other things, is 
written, as I have often seen and read, that the good shall 
go to Paradise, and the evil to hell ; and tbat all Saracens 
believe. And if a man ask them what paradise they mean, 
they say it is a place of delight, where men shall find all 
kinds of fruit, in all seasons, and rivers running with milk 


and honey, and wine and sweet water ; and they shall have 
fair houses and noble, every man after his desert, made 
of precious stones, and of gold and silver ; and every 
man shall have eighty wives, all maidens ; and he shall 
have intercourse every day with them, and still he shall 
find them always maidens. Also they believe in and speak 
gladly of the Virgin Mary and of the Incarnation. And 
they say that Mary was taught of the angel ; and that 
Gabriel said to her that she was chosen from the begin- 
ning of the world ; and that he showed to her the in- 
carnation of Jesus Christ; that she conceived, and bare a 
child, remaining a maid; and that witnesseth their book. 
And they say also that Jesus Christ spake as soon as he was 
bom; and that he was a true and holy prophet in word 
and deed, and meek, and pious, and righteous, and without 
any vice. And they say also that when the angel showed 
the incarnation of Christ unto Mary, she was young, and 
had great fear. For there was then an enchanter in the 
country that dealt with witchcraft, called Taknia, who by 
his enchantments could take the likeness of an angel, and 
went often and lay with maidens ; and therefore Mary feared 
lest it had been Taknia, who came to deceive the maidens. 
And therefore she conjured the angel that he should tell 
her if it were he or no. And the angel answered and said 
that she should have no dread of him; for he was a true 
messenger of Jesus Christ. Also their book says that when 
she had been delivered, under a palm tree, she had great 
shame to have a child; and she moaned and said that she 
would that she had been dead. And anon the child spake 
to her and comforted her, and said, " Mother, have no fear, 
for God hath hid in thee his secrets, for the salvation of 
the world." And that book saith also that Jesus was sent 
from God Almighty to be a mirror and example to all men. 
And the Alkoran saith also, of the day of doom, how God 
shall come to judge all people ; and the good he shall draw 
on his side, and put them into bliss ; and the wicked he 
shall condemn to the pains of hell. And they say that 
among all prophets Jesus was the most excellent and the 
most worthy, and that he made the Gospels, in which 
is good and healthful doctrine, full of charity and stedfast- 
ness, and true preaching to them that believe in God ; and 
that he was a true prophet, and more than a prophet ; and 

o 2 

i96 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

lived without sin, and gave sight to the blind, and healed the 
lepers, and raised dead men, and ascended to heaven. They 
fast a whole month in the year, eating only by night ; and 
they keep from their wives all that month ; but the sick 
are not bound to that fast. Also this book speaks of the 
Jews, and says they are cursed, because they would not be- 
lieve that Jesus Christ was come of God ; and that they 
lied falsely on Mary and her son Jesus Christ, saying that 
they had crucified Jesus the son of Mary ; for he was never 
crucified, as they say, but God made him ascend to him 
without death ; but he transfigured his likeness into Judas 
Iscariot, and him the Jews crucified, believing that it had 
been Jesus ; and therefore they say that the Christian men err, 
and have no good knowledge of this, and that they believe 
falsely that Jesus Christ was crucified. And they say also, 
that if he had been crucified, God had acted contrary to his 
righteousness, to suffer Jesus Christ, who was innocent, to be 
put upon the cross without guilt. And they say that we 
err in this article, and that the great righteousness of God 
might not suffer so great a wTong. They acknowledge that 
the works of Christ are good, and his words and his deeds and 
his doctrine by his gospels true, and his miracles also true; 
and the blessed Virgin Mary was a good and holy maiden be- 
fore and after the birth of Jesus Christ ; and that all those 
that believe perfectly in God shall be saved. And because 
they go so nigh our faith, they are easily converted to Christian 
law, when men preach to them and show them distinctly 
the law of Jesus Christ, and tell them of the pi'ophecies. 
And also they say that they know well by the prophecies 
that the law of Mohammed shall fail as the law of the Jews 
did ; and that the law of Christian people shall last to the 
day of doom. And if any man ask them what is their be- 
lief, they answer thus: "We believe in God, creator of 
heaven and earth, and all other things that he made. And 
without him is nothing made. And we believe in the day 
of doom, and that every man shall have his merit accord- 
ing to his desert. And we hold for true all that God 
hath said by the mouths of his prophets." Also Mohammed 
commanded, in his Alkoran, that every man should have 
two wives, or .tbree or four ; but now they take as many as 
nine, and of lemans as many as a man may support. And 
if any one of their wives misbehave against her husband, 


he may cast her out of his house, and part from her and 
take another; but he shall share with her his goods. Also 
when men speak to them of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Ghost, they say that they he three per- 
sons, but not one God. For their Alkoran speaketh not 
of the Trinity. But they say well that God hath speech, 
and they know well God hath a spirit ; for else, they say, 
he could not be alive. And when men speak to them of 
the incarnation, how by the word of the angel God sent 
his wisdom into earth, and shadowed him in the Virgin Mary; 
and by the word of God shall .the dead be raised at the day 
of doom; they say that it is true, and that the word of 
God hath great power. And they say that whoso knew not 
the word of God, he should not know God. And they say 
also, that Jesus Christ is the word of God, and so saith their 
Alkoran, where it saith that the angel spake to Mary and 
said, "Mary, God shall preach the gospel by the word of 
his mouth, and his name shall be called Jesus Christ." 
And they say also that Abraham was friend to God, and 
that Moses spoke familiar with God; and Jesus Christ w^as 
the word and the spirit of God ; and that Mohammed was the 
messenger of God. And they say that of these four Jesus 
was the most worthy, and the most excellent and the greatest : 
so that they have many good articles of our faith, although 
they they have no perfect law and faith as Christian men 
have, and therefore they are easily converted, especially 
those that understand the scriptures and the prophecies. 
For they have the gospels, and the prophecies, and the bible 
written in their language. Wherefore they know much of 
Holy Writ, but they understand it not but after the letter ; 
and so do the Jews, for they understand not the letter spiritu- 
ally, but carnally, and therefore be they reproved by the 
wise, who understand it spiritually. 

The Saracens say that the Jews are cursed, because they 
have defiled the law that God sent them by Moses. And 
the Christians are cursed also, as they say, for they keep not 
the commandments and the precepts of the Gospel, which 
Jesus Christ gave them. And, therefore, I shall tell 
you what the sultan said to me one day, in his chamber. He 
sent out of his chamber all men, lords and others, because he 
would speak with me in counsel. And there he asked me how^ 
the Christian men governed themselves in our country ? And 


I answered, " Riglit well; thanked be God." And he said 
to me, "Truly, nay; for you Christians care not how un- 
truly you serve God. You should set an example to the 
common people to do well, and you set them an example of 
doing evil. For the commons, upon festival days, when they 
should go to church to serve God, go to taverns, and are 
there in gluttony all day and night, and eat and drink as 
beasts that have no reason, and know not when they have 
enough. And also, the Christians encourage one another, in 
all ways that they may, to fight, and to deceive one another. 
And they are so proud that they know not how to be clothed ; 
now long, now short, now straight, now large, now with sword, 
now with dagger, and in all manner of guises. They should be 
simple, meek, and true, and full of alms-deeds, as Jesus was, 
in whom they believe ; but they are all the contrary, and ever 
inclined to evil, and to do evil. And they are so covetous, that 
for a little silver they sell their daughters, their sisters, and 
their own wives, to put them to lechery. And one seduces 
the wife of another, and none of them holdeth faith to 
another ; but they break their law, that Jesus Christ gave 
them to keep for their salvation. And thus, for their sins, 
have they lost all this land which we hold. Because, for their 
sins here, God hath given them into our hands ; not only by 
our power, but for their sins. For we know well in very truth, 
that when you serve God, God will help you ; and when he is 
with you, no man may be against you. And that know we well 
by our prophecies, that the Christians ^hall win again this land 
out of our hands when they serve God more devoutly. But as 
long as they are of foul and unclean living (as they are now), 
we have no dread of them, for their God will not help them."-'- 
And then I asked him how he knew the state of the Christians ? 
And he answered me, " That he knew all the state of the 
commons also, by his messengers, whom he sent to all lands, 
in guise of merchants of precious stones, cloths of gold, and 
other things, to know the manners of every country amongst 
Christians. And then he called in all the lords that he had 
sent out of his chamber, and he showed me four who were 
great lords, who told me of my country, and of many other 

* "We must take this as a little satire of Sir John Maundeville's against the 
vices of the day among his own countrymen ; and it seems not to have been 
without its effect. There is an English metrical version of it in the ^' Keliquise 
Antiquae," ii. 113. 


Christian countries, as well as if they had been of the same 
country; and they spoke French perfectly well, and the 
sultan also, whereof J. had great marvel. Alas ! it is great 
slander to our faith and to our law, when people that are 
without law shall reprove us of our sins. And they that 
should be converted to Christ and to the law of Jesus by 
our good examples and by our acceptable life to God, and 
so converted to the law of Jesus Christ, are through our 
wickedness and evil living, far from us, and strangers from 
the holy and true belief shall thus accuse us and hold us 
for wicked livers and accursed. And indeed they say truth. 
For the Saracens are good and faithful, and keep entirely 
the commandment of the holy book Alkoran, which God 
sent them by his messenger Mohammed ; to whom, as they 
say, St. Gabriel the angel often told the will of God. 

And you shall understand that Mohammed was born in 
Arabia, and was first a poor boy that kept camels which went 
with merchants for merchandise ; and so it happened that he 
went with the merchants into Egypt. And in the deserts of 
Arabia he went into a chapel where a hermit dwelt; and 
when he entered into the chapel, w^hich was but little and 
low, and had a small low door, then the entrance became so 
great, and so large, and so high, as though it had been of a 
great minster, or the gate of a palace. And this was the 
first miracle, the Saracens say, that Mohammed did in his 
youth. Then he began to wax wdse and rich ; and he was a 
great astronomer ; and afterwards he was governor and prince 
of the land of Cozrodane, which he governed full wisely ; in 
such manner that, when the prince was dead, he took his 
lady, named Gadrige, to wife. And Mohammed fell often in 
the great sickness called the falling evil, wherefore the lady 
was sorry that ever she took him to husband. But Mohammed 
made her believe that when he fell so Gabriel the angel 
came to speak with him, and for the great brightness of the 
angel he might not help falling. And therefore the Sara- 
cens say that Gabriel came often to speak with him. This 
Mohammed reigned in Arabia in the year of our Lord Jesus 
Christ 610; and was of the generation of Ishmael, who was 
Abraham s son, by Agar, his chambermaid. And, therefore, 
there are Saracens that are called Ishmaelites ; and some are 
called Agarenes, of Agar; and others are called Saracens, of 
Sarah ; and some are called Moabites, and some Ammonites, 
from the two sons of Lot, Moab and Ammon, whom he begat on 

300 SIE JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

Ms daughters, and who were afterwards great earthly princes. 
And also Mohammed loved well a good hermit, who dwelt in 
the desert a mile from Mount Sinai, in the way from Arabia 
towards Chaldea and towards India, one day's journey from 
the sea, where the merchants of Venice come often for mer- 
chandise. And so often went Mohammed to this hermit that 
all his men were angry; for he would gladly hear this hermit 
preach, and make his men wait all night, and therefore his 
men thought to put the hermit to death : and so it befel 
upon a night that Mohammed was drunk with good wine, and 
he fell asleep ; and his men took Mohammed's sword out of his 
sheath, while he slept, and therewith they slew the hermit, 
and put his sword, all bloody, in his sheath again. And on 
the morrow, when he found the hermit dead, he was very 
wroth, and would have put his men to death; but they all 
V7ith one accord said that he himself had slain him when he 
was drunk, and showed him his sword all bloody; and he 
believed that they said truth. And then he cursed the wine 
and all those that drink it. And therefore Saracens that 
be devout never drink wine ; but some drink it privately ; 
for if they drank it openly they would be reproved. But 
they drink good beverage, and sweet and nourishing, which is 
made of galamelle; and that is what men make sugar of, 
which is of right good savour, and it is good for the breast. 
Also it happens sometimes that Christians become Saracens, 
either from poverty or from ignorance, or else from their 
own wickedness. And therefore the archiflamen, or the 
flamen, as our archbishop or bishop, when he receives them, 
says. La ellec sila, Machomete rores alia ; that is to say, There 
is no God hut one, and Mohammed his messenger ^^. 

Chapter XIII. 

op albania and of lybia. — op the wishings por watching op the 
sparrow-hawk; and op noah's ship. 

Now, since I have told you before of the Holy Land, and of 
thait country about, and of many ways to go to that land, and 
to Mount Sinai, and of Babylon the Greater and the Less, 

* The foregoing account of Mohammed and his doctrines is of course full of 
error and prejudice ; but it is curious, as showing the popular notions on the 
subject in England and France in the fourteenth century, and may be com- 
pared with several other popular tracts of that age. The Koran had been 
translated into Latin as early as the twelfth century. An account very similar 
to the above is given by Roger of Wendover (Bohn's Antiq. Lib.). 


and other places, now is the time, if it please you, to tell you 
of the borders and isles, and divers beasts, and of various 
peoples beyond these borders. For in the countries beyond 
are many divers countries, and many great kingdoms, that 
are separated by the four streams that come from terrestrial 
Paradise. For Mesopotamia, and the kingdom of Chaldea, 
and Arabia, are between the two "rivers of Tigris and Eu- 
phrates. And Media and Persia are between the rivers of 
Nile and Tigris. And Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia are 
between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea, which 
sea extends in length from Marok, on the sea of Spain, to 
the great sea, so that it lasts beyond Constantinople three 
thousand and forty Lombard miles. Towards the Ocean 
Sea, in India, is the kingdom of Scythia, which is inclosed 
with mountains ; and after, below Scythia, from the Caspian 
Sea to the river Thainy, is Amazonia, or the land of Feminy, 
where there is no man, but only women. And after is 
Albania, a full great realm ; so called because the people 
are whiter there than in other countries thereabout. And 
in that country are so great and strong dogs, that they assail 
lions and slay them. And then after is Hircania, Bactria, 
Iberia, and many other kingdoms. And between the Eed 
Sea and the Ocean Sea, towards the south, is the kingdom 
of Ethiopia, and Lybia the Higher. Which land of Lybia 
(that is to say, Lower Lybia) commences at the sea of Spain, 
from thence where the Pillars of Hercules are, and extends 
to Egypt and towards Ethiopia. In that country of Lybia 
the sea is higher than the land, and it seems that it would 
cover the earth, and yet it passeth not its bounds. And 
men see in that country a mountain to which no man 
Cometh. In this land of Lybia, w^hoso turneth towards the 
east, the shadow of himself is on the right side, and here, in 
our country, the shadow is on the left side. In that sea 
of Lybia is no fish, for they may not live for the great heat 
of the sun ; because the water is ever boiling for the great 
heat. And many other lands there are that it were too long 
to tell or to number; but of some parts I shall speak more 
plainly hereafter. 

Whoever will go towards Tartary, Persia, Chaldea, and 
India, must enter the sea at Genoa, or at Venice, or at some 
other haven that I have mentioned before, and then pass the 
sea and arrive at Trebizond, which is a good city; and it was 

202l sir JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

wont to be the haven of Pountz (Pontus). There is the haven 
of Persians and of Medians, and of the countries beyond. 
In that city lieth St. Athanasius, who was bishop of Alex- 
andria, and made the psalm Quicimque vult^^-. This Atha- 
nasius was a great doctor of divinity ; and because he 
preached and spake so deeply of divinity and of the godhead, 
he was accused to the pope of Eome of being a heretic; 
wherefore the pope sent after him, and put him in prison, 
and while he was in prison he made that psalm, and sent it 
to the pope, and said, that if he were a heretic that was his 
heresy ; for that, he said, was his belief. And when the pope 
saw it, and had examined it that it was perfect and good, and 
verily our faith and our belief, he set him at liberty, and 
commanded that psalm to be said every day at j^^^ayer ; and 
so he held Athanasius a good man. But he would never go 
to his bishopric again, because he had been accused of heresy. 
Trebizond was formerly held by the emperor of Constanti- 
nople ; but a great man, whom he sent to keep the country 
against the Turks, usurped the land and held it to himself, 
and called himself emperor of Trebizond f. 

And from thence men go through Little Ermony (Armenia), 
in which is an old castle, on a rock, called the castle of the 
Sparrow-hawk. It is beyond the city of Lay ays (Lajazzo), be- 
side the town of Pharsipee, which belongs to the lordship of 
Cruk, a rich lord and a good Christian. There is found a 
sparrow-hawk upon a fair perch, and a fair lady of fairie, who 
keeps it ; and whoever mil watch that sparrow-hawk seven days 
and seven nights, and, as some men say, three days and three 
nights, without company and without sleep, that fair lady 
shall give him, when he hath done, the first wish that he will 
wish of earthly things ; and that hath been proved oftentimes. 
And once a king of Ermony, who was a worthy knight and 
brave man, and a noble prince, watched that hawk some time ; 
and at the end of seven days and seven nights the lady came 
to him, and bade him wish, for he had well deserved it ; and 
he answered that he was a great lord enough, and well in 
peace, and had enough of worldly riches ; and therefore he 
would wish no other thing but the body of that fair lady, to 

* ^. e. The Athanasian Creed. 

f A Christian dynasty reigned over the small independent kingdom of 
Trebizond from 1204 to 1462^ after which it was swallowed up in the 
Ottoman empire. 

A.D. 1322.] THE LADY AND THE HAWK. 203 

have at his will. And she answered him, that he knew not 
what he asked, and said that he was a fool to desire what he 
might not have ; for she said that he should only ask an 
earthly thing ; and she was no earthly thing, but a spiritual 
thing. And the king said that he would ask no other thing. 
And the lady answered, " Since I may not withdraw you from 
your lewd boldness, I shall give you without wishing, and to 
all that shall come of you. Sir king, you shall have war 
without peace, and always, to the ninth degree, you shall be 
in subjection to your enemies, and you shall be in need of all 
goods." And since that neither the king of Ermony nor the 
country were ever in peace or rich ; and they have since been 
always under tribute to the Saracens. x\t another time the 
son of a poor man watched the hawk, and wished that he 
might have good success, and be fortunate in merchandise. 
And the lady granted it him, and he became the richest and 
most famous merchant that might be on sea or on land ; and 
he became so rich that he knew not one-thousandth part of 
what he had; and he was wiser in wishing than the king. 
Also a knight of the temple watched there, and wished a 
purse ever full of gold ; and the lady granted him ; but she 
told him that he had asked the destruction of the order ; for 
the trust of that purse, and for the great pride that they 
should have ; and so it was. And therefore let him who 
watches beware ; for if he sleep he is lost, that never man 
shall see him more. This is not the direct way to go to the 
parts that I have mentioned before, but to see the marvel of 
which I have spoken. 

And, therefore, whoever will go the direct way must proceed 
from Trebizond towards Ermony the Great, to a city called Arty- 
roun (Erzeroum), which was formerly a good and populous city, 
but the Turks have greatly wasted it. Thereabout grows little 
or no wine or fruit. In this land the earth is higher than in 
any other ; and that makes it very cold. And there are many 
good waters and good wells, that come under earth from the 
river of Paradise, which is called Euphrates, which is a day's 
journey from this city. And that river comes towards India, 
under earth, and reappears in the land of Altazar. And so 
men pass by this Ermony, and enter the sea of Persia. From 
that city of Artyroun men go to a mountain called Sabissocolle ; 
and there beside is another mountain called Ararat, but the 
Jews call it Taneez. where Noah's ship rested, and still is upon 

2041 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

that mountain ; and men may see it afar in clear weather. 
That mountain is full seven miles high ; and some men say 
that' they have seen and touched the ship, and put their 
fingers in the parts where the devil went out, when Noah said 
*' Benedicite."'!' But they that say so speak without know- 
ledge ; for no one can go up the mountain for the great 
abundance of snow which is always on that mountain, both 
summer and winter, so that no man ever went up since the 
time of Noah, except a monk, who, by God's grace, brought 
one of the planks down, which is yet in the monastery at the 
foot of the mountain. And beside is the city of Dayne, which 
was founded by Noah, near which is the city of Anyf, in which 
were one thousand churches. This monk had great desire to 
go up that mountain ; and so upon a day he went up ; and 
w^hen he had ascended the third part of the mountain he was 
so weary that he fell asleep ; and when he awoke he found 
himself lying at the foot of the mountain. Then he prayed 
devoutly to God that he would suffer him to go up ; and an 
angel came to him, and said that he should go up ; and so he 
did. And since that time no one ever went up ; wherefore 
men should not believe such words. 

From that mountain we go to the city of Thauriso (Tabreez), 
which was formerly called Taxis, a very fair and great city, 
and one of the best in the world for merchandise ; and it is 
in the land of the emperor of Persia. And they say that the 
emperor receives more in that city for custom of merchan- 
dise than the richest Christian king alive from all his realm ; 
for the toll and custom of his merchants is beyond calcu- 
lation. Beside that city is a hill of salt, of which every man 
taketh what he will. There dwell many Christians under 
tribute of Saracens. And from that city men pass by many 
towns and castles, on the way towards India to the city of 
Sadony, which is ten days from Thauriso ; and it is a very 
noble and great city. And there the emperor of Persia 
dwells in summer, because the climate is temperate. And 
there are good rivers capable of bearing ships. Then men 
go the way towards India for many days, and by many coun- 

* This is an allusion to another medieval religious legend. 

f An account of the remarkable ruins, both ecclesiastical and palatial, 
that are met with at Anni, which was the capital of the Pakradian branch 
of Armenian kings, will ^ be found in the Travels of Sir R. K. Porter, and 
those of W. J. Hamilton, vol. i. p. 197. 

A.D. 1322.] . THE LAND OF JOB. 205 

tries, to the city called Cassak, a full noble city, abound- 
ing in corn, wines, and all other goods. This is the city 
where the three kings met together when they went to seek 
our Lord in Bethlehem, to w^orship him, and to present him 
with gold, essence, and myrrh. And it is from that city 
to Bethlehem fifty- three days. From that city men go to an- 
other city, called Bethe (Beth-Germa? or Old Bagdad), a day 
from the sea which they call the Sandy Sea. This is the best 
city which the emperor of Persia has in all his land, and it is 
called there Chardabago ; and others call it Yapa. And the 
Pagans say that no Christian may remain long alive in that 
city; but they die within short time, and no man knows the 
:cause. Afterwards men go by many cities and towns and great 
countries to the city of Cornaa (Kornah?), which was formerly so 
great that the walls are twenty-five miles about. The walls are 
still standing, but it is not all inhabited. From Cornaa men go 
by many lands, and many cities and towns, unto the land of 
Job ; and there ends the land of the emperor of Persia. 

Chapter XIV. 




After leaving Cornaa, we enter the land of Job, a very fair 
country, and abounding in all goods ; and men call it the land 
of Sweze (Susiana). In that land is the city of Theman. Job 
. was a pagan, and he was son of Are of Gosre, and held the land 
as prince of the country; and he was so rich that he knew not 
the hundredth part of his goods. And, although he was a 
pagan, still he served God well, after his law; and our Lord 
took his service in satisfaction. And when he fell in poverty 
he was seventy-eight years of age. And afterwards, when God 
had tried his patience, w^hich was so great, he brought him 
again to riches, and to higher estate than before. And after 
that he was king of Idumea, after king Esau. And when he 
was king he was called Jobab. And in that kingdom he 
lived afterwards one hundred and seventy years -i^ ; and so he 
was of age, when he died, tw^o hundred and forty-eight years. 
In that land of Job there is no want of any thing needful to 

* One hundred and forty years. Job; xlii. 16. 


man's body. There are hills, where they get manna in greater 
abundance than in any other country. This manna is called 
bread of angels ; and it is a white thing, very sweet and de- 
licious, and sweeter than honey or sugar; it comes of the 
dew of heaven, that falls upon the herbs in that country ; and 
it congeals, and becomes white and sweet ; and they put it in 
medicines for rich men, for it cleanseth the blood, and putteth 
out melancholy. This land of Job borders on the kingdom 
of Chaldea. This land of Chaldea is very extensive ; and the 
language of that country is greater in sounding than it is in 
other parts beyond the sea. We pass it to go to the Tower 
of Babylon the Great, of which I have spoken, where all the 
languages were first changed ; and that is four days from 
Chaldea. In that realm are fair men, and they go full nobly 
arrayed in cloths of gold, orfrayed, and apparelled mth great 
pearls and precious stones full nobly; but the women are very 
ugly, and vilely arrayed ; and they go barefoot, and clothed in 
evil garments, large and wide, but short to the knees, and 
long sleeves down to the feet, like a monk's frock, and their 
sleeves are hanging about their shoulders ; and they are black 
women, foul and hideous ; and truly they are as bad as they 
are foul. In that kingdom of Chaldea, in a city called Ur, 
dwelt Terah, Abraham's father; and there w^as Abraham born, 
w^hich was in the time that Ninus was king of Babylon, of 
Arabia, and of Egypt. This Ninus made the city of Nineveh, 
which Noah had begun ; and because Ninus completed it, he 
called it Nineveh, after his own name. There lies Tobit the 
prophet, of whom Holy Writ speaketh. And from that city 
of Ur Abraham departed, by the commandment of God, after 
the death of his father, and led with him Sarah, his wife, 
and Lot, his brother's son, because he had no child. And 
they went to dwell in the land of Canaan, in a place called 
Shechem. And this Lot was he who was saved, when Sodom 
and Gomorrah and the other cities, where the Dead Sea now is, 
. were burnt and sunk down to hell, as I have told you before. 

Beside the land of Chaldea is the land of Amazonia, in 
which is all women, and no man; not, as some men say, be- 
cause men may not live there, but because the women will 
not suffer men amongst them, to be their sovereigns^. This 
land of Amazonia is an island surrounded by the sea, except 

* Here follows, in the original, the common story of the Amazons, taken 
from the ancient authors, which is not worth reprinting. 

A.D. 1322.] ETHIOPIA AND INDIA. 207 

in two places, where are two entrances. And beyond the 
water dwell the men who are their paramours, where they go 
to solace them when they will. Beside Amazonia is the land 
of Tarmegyte, a great and very pleasant country, and for the 
goodness of which king Alexander made there the city of 
Alexandria: he made twelve cities of the same name, but 
that city is now called Celsite. And from that other side of 
Chaldea, toward the south, is Ethiopia, a great country, which 
extends to the extremity of Egypt. Ethiopia is divided into 
two principal parts, the east and the south, the latter part 
being called Mauritania. And the people of that country are 
blacker than in the other part, and are called Moors. In that 
country is a well, which in the day is so cold that no man may 
drink thereof, and in the night it is so hot that no man may 
suffer his hand therein. Towards the south, to pass by the 
Ocean Sea, is a great country, but men may not dwell there, 
for the fervent burning of the sun. In Ethiopia all the 
rivers and waters are troubled, and somewhat salt, for the 
great heat that is there. And the people of that country are 
easily intoxicated, and have but little appetite for meat. And 
they are afflicted with dysenteries, and live not long. In 
Ethiopia, the children, when young, are all yellow; and when 
they grow older that yellowness turns to black. In Ethiopia 
is the city of Saba and the land where one of the three kings 
reigned who came to our Lord in Bethlehem. 

From Ethiopia they go to India through many different 
countries ; and men call the higher India Emlak. India 
is divided into three principal parts : the Greater, which 
is a very hot country ; and India the Less, w^hich is a tem- 
perate country, extending to the land of Media ; and the 
third part, toward the north, is so cold, that for continual 
frost the water becomes crystal; and upon those rocks of 
crystal grow the good diamonds, that are of troubled colour. 
Yellow crystal draws colour like oil. And they are so hard 
that no man may polish them ; and men call them diamonds 
in that country, and hamese in another country. Other dia- 
monds are found in Arabia, but they are not so good ; they 
are browner and more tender. And other diamonds also are 
found in the island of Cyprus, which are still more tender, 
and may easily be polished ; and they find diamonds also in 
Macedonia; but the best and most precious are in India. 
And they often find hard diamonds in a mass which comes 


out of gold, when they break the mass in small pieces, to 
purify it and refine it, out of the mine. And it sometimes 
happens that they find some as great as a pea, and some less ; 
and they are as hard as those of India. And although 
men find good diamonds in India, yet nevertheless men find 
them more commonly upon the rocks in the sea, and upon 
hills where the mine of gold is. They grow many together, 
one little, another great ; and there are some of the greatness 
of a bean, and some as great as a hazel nut. They are square 
and pointed of their own kind, both above and beneath, 
without work of man's hand ; and they grow together, male 
and female, and are nourished by the dew of heaven ; and they 
engender commonly and bring forth small children, that mul- 
tiply and grow all the year. I have oftentimes tried the experi- 
ment, that if a man keep them with a little of the rock, and 
wet them with May-dew often, they shall grow every year, 
and the small will grow great * ; for right as the fine pearl 
congeals and grows great by the dew of heaven, right so doth 
the true diamond : and right as the pearl of its own nature 
takes roundness, so the diamond, by virtue of God, takes 
squareness. And a man should carry the diamond on his left 
side, for it is of greater virtue than on the right sidef ; for 
the strength of their growing is toward the north, that is the 
left side of the world ; and the left part of man is, when he 
turns his face towards the east. And if you wish to know the 
virtues of the diamond (as men may find in the " Lapidary,"]; 
with which many men are not acquainted), I shall tell you, 
as they beyond the sea say and affirm, from whom all science 
and philosophy comes. He who carries the diamond upon 
him, it gives him hardiness and manhood, and it keeps the 
limbs of his body whole. It gives him victory over his ene- 
mies in court and in war, if his cause be just ; and it keeps 
him that bears it in good wit ; and it keeps him from strife 
and riot, from sorrows and from enchantments, and from phan- 
tasies and illusions of wicked spirits. And if any cursed 
witch or enchanter would bewitch him that bears the diamond, 
all that sorrow and mischance sball turn to the offender, 

* Maundeville's notions concerning diamonds are somewhat singular; they 
are, however, partly taken from Pliny, lib. xxxvii. c. 4. 

f Hence the ring was commonly worn on the left hand. 

X The " Liber Lapidarius'' was a popular medieval treatise on the virtues 
and properties of precious stones, which was of great importance when 
people implicitly believed in the wonderful efficacy of such things. 

A.D. 1322.] NATURE OF DIAMONDS. 209 

through virtue of that stone ; and also no wild beast dare assail 
the man who bears it on him. Also the diamond should be 
given freely, without coveting and without buying, and then it 
is of greater virtue ; and it makes a man stronger and firmer 
asfainst his enemies : and heals him that is lunatic, and those 
whom the fiend pursues or torments. And if venom or poison 
be brought in presence of the diamond, anon it begins to 
grow moist and sweat. There are also diamonds in India 
that are called violastres (for their colour is like violet, or more 
brown than violets), that are very hard and precious, but some 
men like them not so well as the others. Also there is an- 
other kind of diamonds that are as white as crystal ; but they 
are a little more troubled ; and they are good and of great 
virtue, and they are all square and pointed of their own na- 
ture; and some are six-square, some four-square, and some 
three, as nature shapes them; and, therefore, when great 
lords and knights go to seek honour in arms, they gladly bear 
the diamond upon them. 

, I shall speak a little more of the diamonds, that they who 
know them not may not be deceived by chapmen who go through 
the country selling them ; for whoever will buy the diamond, 
it is needful that he know them, because men counterfeit them 
often with crystal, which is yellow; and with sapphires of 
citron colour, which is yellow also ; and with the sapphire 
loupe, and with many other stones. But these counterfeits 
,are not so hard; and the points will break easily, and men 
may easily polish them. But some worl^men, for malice, will 
not polish them, to that intent, to make men believe that they 
may not be polished. But men may assay them in this man- 
ner ; first cut with them or write with them in sapphires, in 
crystal, or in other precious stones. Also take the adamant-*', 
that is, the shipman's stone, that draws the needle to it, and lay 
the diamond on it, and lay the needle before the adamant ; and 
if the diamond be good and virtuous, the adamant draws not 
the needle, while the diamond is there present. This is the 
proof that they beyond the sea use. Nevertheless it happens 
often that the good diamond loses its virtue by sin, and for 
incontinence of him that bears it; and then it is needful to 
make it recover its virtue again, or else it is of little value. 

* i. e. The loadstone. The appellation of the " shipman's stone" is curious, 
as showing that the properties of the mariners' compass were well known 
before the middle of the fourteenth century. We have other evidence to 
show that the mariner's compass was known at a much earlier period. 


210 SIB JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

Chapter XV. 




In India are very many different countries ; and it is called 
India, from a river which runs through the country called 
Indus. In that river they find eels thirty feet long and more ^. 
And the people that dwell near that water are of evil colour, 
green and yellow. In India, and about India, are more than 
five thousand inhabited islands, good and great, besides those 
that are uninhabitable, and other small islands. Every island 
has great plenty of cities, and towns, and people without 
number f. For men of India have this condition of nature, 
that they never go out of their own country, and therefore 
there is great multitude of people; but they are not stirring 
or moveable, because they are in the first climate, that is, of 
Saturn. And Saturn is slow, and little moving ; for he tar- 
rieth thirty years to make his course through the twelve signs ; 
and the moon passes through the twelve signs in a month. 
And because Saturn is so slow of motion, the people of 
that country, that are under his climate, have no inclination 
or will to move or stir to seek strange places. Our country 
is all the contrary ; for we are in the seventh climate, which 
is of the moon, and the moon moves rapidly, and is a planet of 
progression ; and for that reason it gives us a natural will to 
move lightly, and to go different ways, and to seek strange 
things and other diversities of the world ; for the moon goes 
round the earth more rapidly than any other planet. 

Also men go through India by many different countries, to the 
great Sea of Ocean. And afterwards men find there an island 
that is called Hermes I ; and there come merchants of Venice 
and Genoa, and of other parts, to buy merchandise ; but there 
is great heat in that district. In that country, and in Ethiopia, 
and in many other countries, the inhabitants lie all naked in 
rivers and waters, men and women together, from undurn§ 

* This is taken from Pliny's Natural History, lib. ix. c. 3. 
+ Pliny's Natural History, lib. vi. c. 17. 
X Ormuz. 

§ JJndurn was nine o'clock in the morning. The Latin text has "J. did 
hora teriia usque ad nonam," 


of the day till it be past noon. And they lie all in the water, 
except the face, for the great heat that there is. And the 
women have no shame of the men, but lie all together, side 
by side, till the heat is past There may men see many foul 
figures assembled, and chiefly near the good towns. In that 
island are ships without nails of iron or bonds, on account of 
the rocks of adamants (loadstones^-); for they are all abundant 
thereabout in that sea, that it is marvellous to speak of ; and 
if a ship passed there that had either iron bonds or iron nails, 
it would perish ; for the adamant, by its nature, draws iron 
to it; and so it would draw to it the ship, because of the 
iron, that it should never depart from it. 

From that island men go by sea to another island called 
Ghana, where is abundance of corn and wine ; and it was 
wont to be a great island, and a great and good haven, but the 
sea has greatly wasted it and overcome it. The king of that 
country was formerly so strong and so mighty that he held 
war against king Alexander. The people of that country differ 
in their religious belief; for some worship the sun, some the 
moon, some the fire, some trees, some serpents, or the first 
thing that they meet in a morning ; and some worship simu- 
lacres, and some idols. Between simulacres and idols there 
is a great difference ; for simulacres are images made after 
the likeness of men or of women, or of the sun or of the moon, 
or of any beast, or of any natural thing ; and an idol- is an image 
made by the lewd will of man, which is not to be found 
among natural things, as an image that has four heads, one of 
a man, another of a horse, or of an ox, or of some other 
beast, that no man has seen in nature. And they that wor- 
ship simulacres worship them for some worthy man who 
once existed, as Hercules and many others, that did many 
wonders in their time. For they say well that they are not 
gods; for they know well that there is a God of nature that 
made all things, who is in heaven ; but they know well that 
this man may not do the wonders that he did, unless it had 
been by the special gift of God, and therefore they say that 
he was well with God, wherefore they worship him. And 

* This tradition of a mountain of magnetic ore is very general among the 
Chinese and throughout Asia. The Chinese assign its position to a specific 
place, which they call Tchang-hai, in the southern sea, between Tonquin and 
Cochin-China, which is precisely the same geographical region indicated in 
the adventures of Sinhad the Sailor. 

p 2 

-212 ' SIK JOHN MAUXDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

• SO they say of the sun ; because it changes the season and 
gives heat and nourishes all things upon earth ; and since it 
is of so great profit, they know well that that might not be, 
unless God loved it more than any other thing. And be- 
cause God has given it greater virtue in the world, therefore 
it is right, as they say, to worship and reverence it. And so 
they say of other planets, and of the fire also, because it is so 
2)rofi table. And of idols, they say also that the ox is the 
most holy beast that is on earth, and most patient and more 
profitable than any other ; and they know well that it may 
not be without special grace of God, and therefore make they 
their god of an ox the one part, and the other part of a man, 
because man is the noblest creature on earth, and also he 
hath lordship above all beasts; therefore make they the upper 
half of the idol of a man, and the lower half of an ox ; and so 
of serpents and of other beasts, and different things that they 
worship, that they meet first in a morning. And they wor- 
ship also especially all those that they have good meeting of, 
and when they speed well in their journey, after their meet- 
ing, and mostly such as they have proved and assayed by ex- 
perience of long time ; for they say, that that good meeting 
may not come but by the grace of God ; and therefore they 
make images like to those things in which they have belief, 
to behold them and worship them first in the morning, before 
they meet any contrarious thing. And there are also some 
Christians who say that it is good to meet some beasts first 
in the morning, and bad to meet others ; and that they have 
often proved that it is very unlucky to meet the hare, and 
swine, and many other beasts ; and the sparrow-hawk, and 
other ravenous birds, when they fly after their prey, and take 
it before armed men, is a good sign, and if they fail of taking 
their prey it is an evil sign ; and also, to such people, it is 
unlucky to meet ravens. There are many people that believe 
in these things, and in other such, because it happens often so 
to fall after their fantasies ; and also there are men enough 
that disbelieve in them. And since Christians have such be- 
lief, who are instructed and taught all day by holy doctrine 
wherein they should believe, it is no wonder that the Pagans, 

• who have no good doctrine, but only of their nature, believe 
more largely, on account of their simplicity. And truly I 
have seen Pagans and Saracens, whom men call augurs, that 
when we ride in arms in different countries ao-ainst our ene- 


mies, they would tell us, by the flight of birds, the prognosti- 
cations of things that fell after ; and so they did full often, 
and offered to pledge their heads that it would fall as they 
said. But a man should not, therefore, put his belief in such 
things, but always have full trust and belief in God our sove- 
reign lord. The Saracens have won and now hold this island 
of Ghana. It contains many lions, and many other wild 
beasts, with rats as great as dogs, which they take with great 
mastiffs, for cats cannot take them. In this island, and 
many others, they do not bury their dead ; for the heat is so 
great, that in a little time the flesh will consume from the 

From thence men go by sea towards India the Greater, to 
a good and fair city called Sarche, where dwell many Chris- 
tians of good faith : and there are many monks, especially 
mendicants. Thence men go by sea to the land of Lomb, in 
which grows the pepper, in the forest called Combar, and it 
grows nowhere else in all the world ; that forest extends full 
eighteen days in length. In the forest are two good cities, 
one called Fladrine, and the other Zinglantz, in each of which 
dwell many Christians and Jews ; for it is a good and rich 
country, but the heat is exceeding. And you shall understand 
that the pepper grows like a wild vine, which is planted close 
by the trees of that wood, to sustain it ; the fruit hangs like 
bunches of grapes, with which the tree is so laden that it 
seems that it would break ; and when it is ripe, it is all green 
like ivy berries ; and then men cut them as they do the vines, 
and put them upon an oven, where they become black and crisp. 
There are three kinds of pepper all on one tree ; long pepper, 
black pepper, and white pepper. The long pepper is called 
Sorbotin ; the black is called Fulful ; and the white is called 
Bano. The long pepper comes first, when the leaf begins to 
appear, and is like the catkins of hazel that come before the 
leaf, and it hangs low. Next comes the black with the leaf, 
like clusters of grapes, all green ; and, when gathered, it be- 
comes the white, which is somewhat less than the black, and 
of that but little is brought to this country, for they keep it 
for themselves, because it is better and milder than the black. 
In that country are many kinds of serpents and other vermin, 
in consequence of the great heat of the country and of the 
pepper. And some men say that, when they will gather the pep- 
per, they make fires and burn thereabouts, to make the serpents 

214 SIR JO FIN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

and cockodrills to fly ; but this is not true But thus they 
do : they anoint their hands and feet with a juice made of 
snails and other things, of which the serpents and venomous 
beasts hate the savour ; and that makes them fly before them, 
because of the smell, and then they gather in the pepper in 

Toward the head of that forest is the city of Polombe, above 
which is a great mountain, also called Polombe, from w^hich 
the city has its name. And at the foot of that mountain is 
a fair and great well, which has the odour and savour of all 
spices ; and at every hour of the day it changes its odour and 
savour diversely ; and whoever drinks three times fasting of 
the water of that well is w^hole of all kind of sickness that 
he has ; and they that dwell there, and drink often of that 
well, never have sickness, but appear always young. I have 
drunk thereof three or four times, and methinks I still fare 
the better. Some men call it the Well of Youth; for they 
that often drink thereof appear always young, and live with- 
out sickness ^. And men say that that well comes out of 
Paradise, and therefore it is so virtuous. All that country 
grows good ginger ; and therefore merchants go thither for 
spicery. In that land men worship the ox, for his simpleness 
and for his meekness, and for the profit that comes of him. 
They say that he is the holiest beast on earth ; for they con- 
sider that whosoever is meek and patient, he is holy and pro- 
fitable, for then, they say, he hath all virtues in him. They 
make the ox to labour six or seven years, and then they eat 
him. And the king of the country has always an ox with 
him ; and his keeper has every day great fees, and keeps 
every day his dung and urine in two vessels of gold, and 
brings it before their prelate, whom they call archiprotopa- 
paton, and he carries it before the king, and makes over it a 
great blessing ; and then the king wets his hands in what 
they call gall, and anoints his forehead and breast, and after- 
wards he rubs himself with the dung and urine with great 
reverence, to be filled with the virtues of the ox, and made 
holy by the virtue of that holy thing. And when the king 
has done, the lords follow his example ; and after them their 

* The Well of Youth was a sort of El Dorado of the middle ages, which 
most people believed in, and many went in search of; but, in spite of Maunde- 
ville's assertion that he had drunk of the water, it appears never to have been 


ministers, and other men, if there be any left. In that coun- 
try they make idols, half man, half ox; and in those idols evil 
spirits speak, and even answer to men. Before these idols 
men often slay their children, and sprinkle the blood on the 
idols, and so they make their sacrifice. And when any man 
dies in the country they burn his body in the name of pen- 
ance, to that intent that he suffer no pain in earth, by being 
eaten by worms. And if his wife have no child they burn 
her with him, and say that it is right that she accompany him 
in the other world as she did in this. But if she have chil- 
dren with him, they let her live with them, to bring them up, 
if she will. And if she love more to live with her chil- 
dren then to die with her husband, they hold her for false 
and cursed ; and she shall never be loved or trusted by the 
people. And if the woman die before the husband, they bum 
him with her, if he will ; and if he will not, no man con- 
straineth him thereto, but he may wed another time without 
blame or reproof. In that country grow many strong vines, 
and the women drink wine, and men not; and the women 
shave their beards, and the men not. 

. Chapter XVI. 


From that country we pass many districts, towards a countr}'- 
ten days' journey thence, called Mabaron*, which is a great 
kingdom, containing many fair cities and towns. In that 
kingdom lies the body of St. Thomas the Apostle, in flesh 
and bone, in a fair tomb, in the city of Calamy ; for there he 
was martyred and buried. But men of Assyria carried his 
body into Mesopotamia, into the city of Edessa ; and, after- 
wards, he was brought thither again. And the arm and the 
hand that he put in our Lord's side, when he appeared to 
him after his resurrection, is yet lying in a vessel without the 
tomb. By that hand they there make all their judgments. 
For when there is any dissension between two parties, and 
each of them maintains his cause, both parties write their 
causes in two bills, and put them in the hand of St. Tho- 

* This is the country described by Marco Polo, book iii. c. 20, under the 
name of Maabar. 


mas ; and aiion he casts away the bill of the wrong cause, 
and holds still the bill with the right cause. And, therefore, 
men come from far countries to have judgment of doubtful 
causes. The church where St. Thomas lies is both great 
and fair, and full of great simulacres, which are great images 
that they call their gods, of which the least is as great as two 
men. And, amongst the others, there is a great image larger 
than any of the others, all covered with fine gold and precious 
stones and rich pearls ; and that idol is the god of false Chris- 
tians, who have renounced their faith. It sits in a chair of 
gold, very nobly arrayed, and has about the neck large girdles 
made of gold and precious stones and pearls. The church is 
fall richly wrought, and gilt all over within. And to that 
idol men go on pilgrimage, as commonly and with as great 
devotion as Christian men go to St. James, or other holy pil- 
grimages. And many people that come from far lands to seek 
that idol, for the great devotion that they have, never look 
upwards, but evermore down to the earth, for dread to see 
any thing about tliem that should hinder them of their devo- 
tion. And some who go on pilgrimage to this idol bear 
knives in their hands, that are very keen and sharp, and 
continually, as they go, they smite themselves on their arms, 
legs, and thighs, with many hideous wounds ; and so they 
shed their blood for love of that idol. They say that he is 
blessed and holy that dieth so for love of his god. And 
others there are who carry their children to be slain as a 
sacrifice to that idol ; and after they have slain them, they 
sprinkle the blood upon the idol. And some, who come 
from far, in going towards this idol, at every third pass that 
they go from their home, they kneel, and so continue till 
they come thither; and when they come there, they take 
incense and other aromatic things of noble smell, and scent 
the idol, as we here do God's precious body. And so people 
come to worship this image, some a hundred miles, and 
some many more. And before the minster of this idol is a 
pool, like a great lake, full of water; and therein pilgrims 
cast gold and silver, pearls and precious stones, without 
number, instead of offerings. And when the ministers of 
that church need to make any reparation of the church 
or of any of the idols, they take gold and silver, pearls and 
precious stones, out of the pond, to pay the expenses of 
such thing as they make or repair. At great feasts and 

A.D. 132-2.] WORSHIP OF IDOLS. 217 

solemnities of that idol, as the dedication of the church and the 
enthroning of the idol, all the country about meet there, and set 
the idol upon a chair with great reverence, well arrayed with 
cloths of gold, of rich cloths of Tartary, of camaka--, and 
other precious cloths ; and they lead him about the city with 
great solemnity. And before the chair go first in procession 
all the maidens of the country, two and two together ; and, 
after them, the pilgrims. And some of them fall down under 
the wheels of the chair, and let the chair go over them, so 
that they die immediately. And some have their arms or 
their limbs broken. And all this they do for love of their 
god, in great devotion. And they think that the more pain 
and tribulation they suffer for love of their god, the more 
joy they shall have in another w^orld. In a word, they 
suffer so great pains and so hard martyrdoms for love of 
their idol, that a Christian, I believe, durst not take upon 
him the tenth part of the pain for love of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. And after them, before the chair, go all the min- 
strels of the country, with divers instruments, and make all 
the melody they can. And when they have all gone about 
the city, they return to the minster and put the idol again 
into its place. And then, for the love and in worship of 
that idol, and for the reverence of the feast, two hundred or 
three hundred persons slay themselves with sharp knives, 
whose bodies they bring before the idol ; and then they 
say that those are saints, because they slew themselves 
of their own good will, for love of their idol. And as men 
here, that had a holy saint of their kin, would think that 
it was to them a high worship, right so they think there. 
And as men here devoutly would write holy saints' lives and 
their miracles, and sue for their canonizations, right so do they 
there for them that slay themselves voluntarily for love of 
their idol. And they say that they are glorious martyrs and 
saints, and put them in their writings and in their litanies, 
and boast them greatly one to another of their holy kinsmen, 
that so became saints, and say, " I have more holy saints in 
my family than thou in thine." And the custom also there 
is this, that when any one has such devotion and intent 
to slay himself for love of his god, they send for all their 
friends, and have numerous minstrels, and they go before the 

* A rich clotli of silk, mentioned not unfrequently in medieval writers. . 

218 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

idol, leading him that will slay liimself for such devotion, 
between them, with great reverence. And he, all naked, 
hath a very sharp knife in his hand, and he cuts a great 
piece of his flesh and casts it in the face of his idol, saying 
his prayers, recommending himself to his god : and then he 
smites himself, and makes great wounds and deep here and 
there, till he falls down dead. And then his friends present 
his body to the idol ; and then they say, singing, " Holy 
god, behold W'hat thy true servant hath done for thee; he 
hath forsaken his wife, and his children, and his riches, and 
all the goods of the world and his own life for the love of thee, 
and to make for thee sacrifice of his flesh and of his blood. 
Wherefore, holy god, put him amongst thy best beloved 
saints in thy bliss of paradise, for he hath well deserved it." 
Then they make a great fire, and burn the body ; and then 
every one of his friends takes a quantity of the ashes, and 
keeps them instead of relics, saying that it is a holy thing ; 
and they dread no peril while they have the holy ashes upon 
them. And they put his name in their litanies as a saint. 

Chapter XVII. 


From that country men go by the Sea of Ocean, and by 
many divers isles and countries which it would be too long to 
describe. Fifty- two days from the land T have spoken of 
there is another extensive land, which they call Lamary, in 
w^iich the heat is very great ; and it is the custom there for 
men and women to go all naked. And they scorn when they 
see foreigners going clothed, because they say that God 
made Adam and Eve all naked, and that no man should be 
ashamed of what is according to nature. And they say that 
they that are clothed are people of another world, or people 
who believe not in God. And they marry there no' wives, 
for all the women are common ; and they say they sin if they 
refuse any man : for God commanded Adam and Eve, and 
all that come of him, that they should increase and mul- 
tiply and fill the land, therefore may no man in that country 
say, *' This is my wife;" and no woman may say, " This is 
my husband." And when they have children, they may give 

A.D. 1322.] THE FORM OF THE EARTH. 219 

them to what man they will, who has companied with them. 
And all land and property also is common, nothing being shut 
up, or kept under lock, one man being as rich as another. 
But in that country there is a cursed custom, for they eat 
more gladly man's flesh than any other flesh, although their 
country abounds in flesh, fish, corn, gold, and silver, and all 
other goods. Thither merchants go, who bring with them 
children to sell to them of the country, and they buy them ; 
and if they are fat they eat them anon : and if they are lean 
they feed them till they are fat, and then eat them ; and 
they say that it is the best and sweetest flesh in the world. 

Neither in that land, nor in many others beyond it, may any 
man see the polar star, which is called the Star of the Sea, 
which is immoveable, and is towards the north, gfnd which we 
call the load-star. But they see another star opposite to it, 
towards the south, which is called antarctic. And right as 
shipmen here govern themselves by the load-star, so ship- 
men beyond these parts are guided by the star of the south, 
which appears not to us. This star, which is towards the 
north, that we call the load-star, appears not to them. For 
which ca.use, we may clearly perceive that the land and sea are 
of round shape and form, because the part of the firmament 
appears in one country which is not seen in another country. 
And men may prove by experience and their understanding, 
that if a man found passages by ships, he might go by 
ship all round the world, above and beneath ; which I prove 
thus, after what I have seen. For I have been towards the 
parts of Brabant, and found by the astrolabe^ that the polar 
star is fifty-three degrees high ; and further, in Germany 
and Bohemia, it has fifty-eight degrees ; and still further 
towards the north it is sixty-two degrees and some minutes ; 
for I myself have measured it by the astrolabe. Now you 
shall know that opposite the polar star is the other star, 
called antarctic, as I have said before. These two stars are 
fixed; and about them all the firmament turns as a wheel 
that turns on its axle-tree ; so that those stars bear the 
firmament in two equal parts ; so that it has as much above 
as it has beneath. After this I have gone towards the south, 

* An astronomical instrument used in the middle ages for taking altitudes, 
&c. Maundeville's notions about the form of the earth, and the possibility 
of passing round it, are extremely curious, from the circumstance of their 
having been written and published so long before the time of Columbus. 

S20 * SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

and have found, that in Lybia we first see the antarctic star; 
and I have gone so far in tliose countries that I have found 
that star higher, so that, towards Upper Lybia, it is eighteen 
degrees and certain minutes. After going by sea and land 
towards the country of which I spoke last, and to other isles 
and lands beyond that country, I have found the antarctic 
star thirty-three degrees in altitude, and some minutes. And 
if I had had company and shipping to go further, I believe 
certainly that we should have seen all the roundness of the 
firmament all about. For, as I have told you before, the half 
of the firmament is between the two stars, which half I have 
seen. And the other half I have seen towards the north, 
under the polar star, sixty- two degrees and ten minutes ; and, 
towards the south, I have seen under the antarctic thirty- 
three degrees and sixteen minutes ; and the half of the firma- 
ment in all contains but one hundred and eighty degrees, 
of which I have seen sixty-two on the one part, and thirty- 
three on the other, which makes ninety-five degrees, and 
nearly the half of a degree ; so that I have seen all the 
firmament except eighty-four degrees and the half of a de- 
gree ; and that is not the fourth part of the firmament. By 
which I tell you, certainly, that men may go all round the 
world, as well under as above, and return to their country, 
if they had company, and shipping, and guides ; and always 
they would find men, lands, and isles, as well as in our part 
of the world. For they who are towards the antarctic are 
directly feet opposite feet of them who dwell under the polar 
star ; as well as we and they that dwell under us are feet 
opposite feet. For all parts of sea and land have their oppo- 
sites, habitable or passable. 

And know well that, after what I may perceive and under- 
stand, the lands of Prester John, emperor of India, are under 
us ; for in going from Scotland or from England, towards 
Jerusalem, men go always upwards ; for our land is in the low 
part of the earth, towards the west ; and the land of Prester 
John is in the low part of the earth, towards the east ; and they 
have there the day when we have night ; and, on the contrary, 
they have the night when we have the day ; for the earth and 
the sea are of a round form, as I have said before ; and as 
men go upward to one part, they go downward to another. 
Also you have heard me say that Jerusalem is in the middle 
of the world ; and that may be proved and shown there by a 

A.D. 1322.] THE FORM OF THE EARTH. 221 

spear which is fixed in the earth at the hour of midday, when 
it is equinoxial, which gives no shadow on any side. They, 
therefore, that start from the west to go towards Jerusalem, 
as many days as they go upward to go thither, in so many 
days may they go from Jerusalem to other confines of the 
superficialties of the earth beyond. And when men go beyond 
that distance, towards India and to the foreign isles, they are 
proceeding on the roundness of the earth and the sea, under 
our country. And therefore hath it befallen many times of a 
thing that I have heard told when I was young, how a worthy 
man departed once from our country to go and discover the 
world ; and so he passed India, and the isles beyond India, 
where are more than five thousand isles ; and so long he went 
by sea and land, and so environed the world by many seasons, 
that he found an isle where he heard people speak his own lan- 
guage, calling on oxen in the plough such words as men speak 
to beasts in his ow^n country, w^hereof he had great wonder, for 
he knew not how it might be. But I say that he had gone so 
long, by land and sea, that he had gone all round the earth, 
that he was come again to his own borders, if he would have 
passed forth till he had found his native country. But he 
turned again from thence, from whence he was come ; and so 
he lost much painful labour, as himself said, a great while 
after, when he was coming home ; for it befell after, that he 
went into Norway, and the tempest of the sea carrried him to 
an isle ; and when he w^as in that isle, he knew well that it 
was the isle where he had heard his own language spoken 
before, and the calling of the oxen at the plough. But it 
seems to simple and unlearned men that men may not go 
under the earth, but that they would fall from under towards 
the heaven. But that may not be any more than we fall 
towards heaven from the earth where we are ; for from what 
part of the earth that men dwell, either above or beneath, it 
seems always to them that they go more right than any other 
people. And right as it seems to us that they be under 
us, so it seems to them that we are under them ; for if a 
man might fall from the earth unto the firmament, by greater 
reason the earth and the sea, that are so great and so heavy, 
should fall to the firmament ; but that may not be, and there- 
fore saith our Lord God, "He hangeth the earth upon no^ 
thing."* And although it be possible so to go all round the 
* Job, xxvi. 7. 


world, yet of a thousand persons not one might happen to 
return to his country : for, from the greatness of the earth and 
sea, men may go by a thousand different ways, that no one 
could be sure of returning exactly to the parts he came from, 
unless by chance or by the grace of God; for the earth is 
very large, and contains in roundness and circuit, above and 
beneath, 20,425 miles, after the opinion of the old wise 
astronomers ; and, after my little wit, it seems to me, saving 
their reverence, that it is more ; for I say thus : let there be 
imagined a figure that has a great compass ; and, about the 
point of the great compass, which is called the centre, let 
there be made another little compass ; then, afterwards, let the 
great compass be divided by lines in many parts, and all the 
lines meet at the centre ; so that in as many parts as the 
great compass shall be divided, in so many shall the little 
one that is about the centre be divided, although the spaces 
be less. Let the great compass be represented for the 
firmament, and the little compass for the earth ; now the 
firmament is divided by astronomers into twelve signs, and 
every sign is divided into thirty degrees. Also let the earth 
be divided into as many parts as the firmament, and let every 
part answer to a degree of the firmament ; and I know well that, 
after the authorities in astronomy, seven hundred furlongs of 
earth answer to a degree of the firmament, that is eighty-seven 
miles and four furlongs. Now, multiplied by three hundred 
and sixty times, it makes 31,500 miles, each of eight fur- 
longs, according to miles of our country. So much hath the 
earth in circuit after my opinion and understanding. 

Chapteu XYIII. 


Beside the isle I have spoken of, there is another great isle 
called Sumobor^^, the king of which is very mighty. The 
people of that isle make marks in their faces with a hot iron, 
both men and women, as a mark of great nobility, to be 
known from other people ; for they hold themselves most 
noble and most worthy of all the world. They have war 

* Perhaps Sumatra. Maundeville seems to allude to the tattooing prac- 
tised so generally in the islands of the Pacific. 


always with tlie people that go all naked. Fast beside is 
another rich isle called Beteinga. And there are many other 
isles thereabout. 

Fast beside that isle, to pass by sea, is a great isle and 
extensive country, called Java, which is near two thousand 
miles in circuit. And the king of that country is a very great 
lord, rich and mighty, having under him seven other kings of 
seven other surrounding isles. This isle is well inhabited, 
and in it grow all kinds of spices more plentifully than in any 
other country, as ginger, cloves, canel, sedewalle, nutmegs, 
and maces. And know well that the nutmeg bears the maces ; 
for right as the nut of the hazel hath a husk in which the nut 
is inclosed till it be ripe, so it is of the nutmeg and of the 
maces. Many other spices and many other goods grow in 
that isle; for of all things there is plenty, except wine. 
Gold and silver are very plentiful. The king of that country 
has a very noble and wonderful palace, and richer than any in 
the world ; for all the steps leading to halls and chambers are 
alternately of gold and silver ; and the pavements of halls and 
chambers are squares of gold and silver; and all the walls within 
are covered with gbld and silver in thin plates ; in which 
plates are inlaid stories and battles of knights, the crowns 
and circles about whose heads are made of precious stones 
and rich and great pearls. And the halls and the chambers 
of the palace are all covered within with gold and silver, so 
that no man would believe the richness of that palace unless 
he had seen it. And know well that the king of that isle is 
so mighty, that he hath many times overcome the great chan 
of Cathay in battle, who is the greatest emperor under the 
firmament, either beyond the sea or on this side ; for they 
have often had war between them, because the great chan 
would oblige him to hold his land of him ; but the other at all 
times defendeth himself well against him. 

After that isle is another large isle, called Pathan, which is 
a great kingdom, full of fair cities and towns. In that land 
grow trees that bear meal, of which men make good bread, 
white, and of good savour ; and it seemeth as it were of wheat, 
but it is not quite of such savour. And there are other trees 
that bear good and sweet honey; and others that bear 
poison ^^ against which there is no medicine but one; and 
that is to take their own leaves, and stamp them and mix 
* This seems to be an allusion to the upas tree. 


them with water, and then drink it, for no medicine will 
avail. The Jews had sent for some of this poison by one 
of their friends, to poison all Christendom, as I have heard 
them say in their confession before dying; but, thanked be 
Almighty God, they failed of their purpose, although they 
caused a great mortality of people ^'^. And there are other 
trees that bear excellent wdne. And if you like to hear how 
the meal comes out of the trees, men hew the trees with an 
hatchet, all about the foot, till the bark be separated in many 
parts ; and then comes out a thick liquor, which they receive 
in vessels, and dry it in the sun ; and then carry it to a 
mill to grind, and it becomes fair and white meal ; and the 
honey, and the wine, and the poison, are drawn out of other 
trees in the same manner, and put in vessels to keep. In 
that isle is a dead sea, or lake, that has no bottom ; and if any 
thing fall into it, it will never come up again. In that lake 
grow reeds, which they call Thaby, that are thirty fathoms 
long ; and of these reeds they make fair houses. And there 
are other reeds, not so long, that grow near the land, and have 
roots full a quarter of a furlong or more long, at the knots of 
which roots precious stones are found that have great virtues ; 
for he who carries any of them upon him may not be hurt by 
iron or steel ; and therefore they who have those stones on 
them fight very boldly both on sea and land ; and, therefore, 
when their enemies are aware of this, they shoot at them 
arrows and darts without iron or steel, and so hurt and slay 
them. And also of those reeds they make houses and ships, 
and other things, as we here make houses and ships of oak, 
or of any other trees. And let no man think that I am 
joking, for I have seen these reeds with my own eyes many 
times, lying upon the river of that lake, of which twenty of 
our fellows might not lift up or bear one to the earth. 

Beyond this isle men go by sea to another rich isle, called 
Calonakf, the king of which has as many wives as he will; 
for he makes search through the country for the fairest 
.maidens that may be found, who are brought before him, and 

* This accusation was spread against tlie Jews, as an excuse for persecu- 
tion and spoliation. 

f This may possibly be meant for Ceylon ; but it would be vain to attempt 
to identify the islands mentioned in this and the following chapter. Some of 
the descriptions may, however, have had their foundation in what was ori- 
ginally correct information, but exaggerated or misunderstood. 


he taketli one one night, and another another, and so forth in 
succession ; so that he hath a thousand wives or more. And 
he lies never hut one night with one of them, and another 
night with another, unless one happens to be more agreeable 
to him than another. Thus the king gets many children, 
sometimes a hundred, sometimes two hundred, and sometimes 
more. He hath also as many as fourteen thousand elephants, 
or more, which are brought up amongst his serfs in all his 
towns. And in case he has war with any of the kings around 
him, he causes certain men of arms to go up into wooden 
castles, which are set upon the elephants' backs, to fight 
against their enemies ; and so do other kings thereabouts ; 
and they call the elephants warkes. 

And in that isle there is a great wonder ; for all kinds of 
fish that are there in the sea come once a year, one kind after 
the other, to the coast of that isle in so great a multitude that 
a man can see hardly any thing but fish ; and there they 
remain three days ; and every man of the country takes as 
many of them as he likes. And that kind of fish, after the 
thii'd day, departs and goes into the sea. And after them 
com.e another multitude of fish of another kind, and do in the 
same manner as the first did another three days ; and so on 
with the other kinds, till all the divers kinds of fishes have 
been there, and men have taken what they like of them. 
And no man knows the cause ; but they of the country say 
that it is to do reverence to their king, who is the most worthy 
king in the world, as they say, because he fulfils the command- 
ment of God to Adam and Eve, " Increase and multiply, and 
fill the earth;" and because he multiplies so the world with 
children, therefore God sends him the fishes of divers kinds, 
to take at his will, for him and all his people ; and thus all 
the fishes of the sea come to do him homage as the most noble 
and excellent king of the world, and that is best beloved of 
God, as they say. 

There are also in that country a kind of snails, so great 
that many persons may lodge in their shells, as men would 
do in a little house. And there are other snails that are 
very great, but not so huge as the other, of which, and of 
great white serpents with black heads, that are as great as a 
man's thigh, and some less, they make royal meats for the 
king and other great lords. And if a man who is married 
die in that country, they bury his wife alive with him, for 



tliey say that it is right that she make him companj in the 
other world, as she did in this. 

From that country they go hy the Sea of Ocean, hy an isle 
called Caffolos ; the natives of which, when their friends are 
sick, hang them on trees, and say that it is hotter that birds, 
which are angels of God, eat them, than the foul worms of 
the earth. Then we come to another isle, the inhabitants 
of which are of full cursed kind, for they breed great dogs, 
and teach them to strangle their friends, when they are sick, 
for they will not let them die of natural death ; for they 
say that they should suffer great pain if they abide to die 
by themselves, as nature would ; and, when they are thus 
strangled, they eat their flesh as though it were venison. 

Afterwards men go by many isles by sea to an isle called 
Milk, where are very cursed people; for they delight in 
nothing more than to fight and slay men ; and they drink 
most gladly man's blood, which they call Dieu. And the more 
men that a man may slay, the more worship he hath amongst 
them. And thence they go by sea, from isle to isle, to an 
isle called Tracoda, the inhabitants of which are as beasts, 
and unreasonable, and dwell in caves which they make in 
the earth, for they have not sense to make houses. And 
when they see any man passing through their countries they 
hide them in their caves. And they eat flesh of serpents, 
and they speak nought, but hiss, as serpents do. After that 
isle, men go by the Sea of Ocean, by many isles, to a great 
and fair isle called Nacumera, which is in circuit more than 
a thousand miles. And all the men and women of that isle 
have dogs' heads ; and they are reasonable and of good 
understanding, except that they worship an ox for their god. 
And also every man of them beareth an ox of gold or silver 
on' his forehead, in token that they love well their god. 
And they go all naked, except a little clout, and are large 
men and warlike, having a great target that covers all the 
body, and a spear in their hand to fight with. And if they 
take any man in battle they eat him. The king is rich and 
powerful, and very devout after his law ; and he has about 
his neck three hundred orient pearls, knotted, as pater- 
nosters are here of amber. And as we say our Pater Noster 
and Ave Maria, counting the paternosters, right so this 
king says every day devoutly three hundred prayers to his 
god, before he eats; and he^ beareth also about his neck an 

A.D. 1322.] HILL OF ADAM AND EVE. 227 

orient ruby, noble and fine, which is a foot in length, and five 
fingers large. And when they choose their king, they give 
^him that ruby to carry in his hand, and so they lead him 
riding all about the city. And that ruby he shall bear 
always about his neck; for if he had not that ruby upon 
him they would not hold him for king. The chan of Cathay 
has greatly coveted that ruby, but he might never have it, 
neither for war, nor for any manner of goods. This king is so 
righteous and equitable in his judgments, that men may go 
safely through all his country, and bear with them what 
they like, and no man shall be bold enough to rob them. 

Hence men go to another isle called Silha, which is full 
eight hundred miles in circuit. In that land is much waste, 
for it is so full of serpents, dragons, and cockodrills, that no 
man dare dwell there. These cockodrills are serpents, yellow 
and rayed above, having four feet, and short thighs, and great 
nails like claws ; and some are five fathoms in length, and 
some of six, eight, or even ten; and when they go by 
places that are gravelly, it appears as if men had drawn a 
great tree through the gravelly place. And there are also 
many wild beasts, especially elephants. In that isle is a 
great mountain, in the midst of which is a large lake in a full 
fair plain, and there is great plenty of water. And they of 
the country say that Adam and Eve wept on that mount a 
hundred years '^, when they were driven out of Paradise. And 
that water, they say, is of their tears ; for so much water they 
wept, that made the aforesaid lake. And at the bottom of 
that lake are found many precious stones and great pearls. 
In that lake grow many reeds and great canes, and there 
vvithin are many cockodrills and serpents, and great water 
leeches. And the king of that country, once every year, 
gives leave to poor men to go into the lake to gather precious 
stones and pearls, by way of alms, for the love of God, 
that made Adam. To guard against the vermin, they anoint 
their arms, thighs, and legs with an ointment made of a 
thing called limons, which is a kind of finiit like small pease^ 
and then they have no dread of cockodrills, or other venom- 
ous things. This water runs, flowing and ebbing, by a side 
of the mountain ; and in that river men find precious stones 

* Adam's Peak is in the island of Ceylon, whkh. seems to be the one here 
alluded to under the name of Silha. 



228 SIR JOHN MAUNDEYILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

and pearls, in great abundance. And the people of that isle 
say commonly, that the serpents and wild beasts of the coun- 
try will do no harm to any foreigner that enters that country, 
but only to men that are born there. 

Chapter XIX. 


From that isle, in going by sea towards the south, is another 
great isle, called Dondun, in which are people of wicked 
kinds, so that the father eats the son, the son the father, the 
husband the wife, and the wife the husband. And if it so 
befall that the father or mother or any of their friends are 
sick, the son goes to the priest of their law, and prays him to 
ask the idol if his father or mother or friend shall die ; and 
then the priest and the son go before the idol, and kneel 
full devoutly, and ask of the idol ; and if the devil that is 
within answer that he shall live, they keep him well ; and if 
he say that he shall die, then the priest and the son go 
with the wife of him that is sick, and they put their hands 
upon his mouth and stop his breath, and so Idll him. And 
after that, they chop all the body in small pieces, and pray 
all his friends to come and eat; and they send for all the 
minstrels of the country and make a solemn feast. And 
when they have eaten the flesh, they take the bones and 
bury them, and sing and make great melody. The king of 
this isle is a great and powerful lord, and has under him fifty- 
four great isles, which give tribute to him; and in every 
one of these isles is a king crowned, all obedient to that king. 
In one of these isles are people of great stature, like giants, 
hideous to look upon ; and they have but one eye, which is 
in the middle of the forehead ; and they eat nothing but 
raw flesh and fish-. And in another isle towards the south 
dwell people of foul stature and cursed nature, who have no 
heads, but their eyes are in their shoulders. 

In another isle are people wdio have the face all flat, with- 
out nose and without mouth. In another isle are people that 

* The "marvels" that follow in this paragraph are taken almost entirely 
from Pliny and Solinus. 

A.D. 1322.] WONDERS OF THE EAST. 229 

have the lip above the mouth so great, that when they sleep 
in the sun they cover all the face with that lip. And in 
another isle there are dwarfs, which have no mouth, but 
instead of their mouth they have a little round hole ; and 
when they shall eat or drink, they take it through a pipe, 
or a pen, or such a thing, and suck it in. And in another 
isle are people that have ears so long that they hang down to 
their knees. And in another isle are people that have horses' 
feet. In another isle are people that go upon their hands 
and feet like beasts, and are all skinned and feathered, and 
would leap as lightly into trees, and from tree to tree, as 
squirrels or apes. In another isle are hermaphrodites. And 
in another isle are people that go always upon their knees, 
and at every step they go it seems that they would fall ; 
and they have eight toes on every foot. Many other divers 
people of divers natures there are in other isles about, of the 
which it were too long to tell. 

From these isles, in passing by the Sea of Ocean towards 
the east, by many days, men find a great kingdom called 
Mancy, which is in India the Greater; and it is the best 
land, and one of the fairest in all the world; and the most 
delightful and plentiful of all goods. In that land dwell 
many Christians and Saracens, for it is a good and great 
country. And there are in it more than two thousand great 
and rich cities, besides other great towns. And there is 
greater plenty of people there than in any other part of India. 
In that country is no needy man ; and they are very fair 
people, but they are all pale. And the men have thin 
and long beards, though with few hairs, scarcely any man having 
more than fifty hairs in his beard, and one hair set here, 
another there, as the beard of a leopard or cat. In that land 
are many fairer women than in any other country beyond the 
sea; and therefore they call that land Albany, because the 
people are white. And the chief city of that country is called 
Latoryn ; it is a day from the sea, and much larger than 
Paris. In that city is a great river, bearing ships, which 
go to all the coasts on the sea ; for no city of the world is so 
well stored of ships. And all the inhabitants of the city and 
of the country worship idols. In that country the birds are 
twice as large as they are here. There are white geese, red 
about the neck, with a great crest like a cock's comb upon 
their heads; and they are much greater there than here 

^$% SIE JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

And there is great abundance of sei'pents, of which men 
make great feasts, and eat them at great solemnities. And 
he that maketh there a feast, be it ever so costly, unless he 
have serpents it is not esteemed. 

There are many good cities in that country, and men have 
great plenty of all wines and victuals cheap. In that country 
are many churches of religious men of their law; and in 
the churches are idols as great as giants. And to these 
idols they give to eat at great festival days, in this manner : 
they bring before them meat, hot from the fire, and they let 
the smoke go up towards the idols; and then they say 
that the idols have eaten, and then the religious men eat the 
meat afterwards. In that country are white hens without 
feathers, but they bear white wool, as sheep do here. In that 
country, women that are unmarried carry tokens on their 
heads, like coronets, to be known for unmarried. Also in 
that country are beasts taught by men to go into waters, 
rivers, and deep ponds, to take fish ; which beast is little, and 
men call them loyres. And when men cast them into the 
w^ater, anon they bring up great fishes, as many as men will. 

And from that city, at a distance of many days' journey, 
is another city, one of the greatest in the world, called Cansay -'S 
that is to say, the city of heaven. It is full fifty miles about, 
and is so populous that in one house men make ten households. 
In that city are twelve principal gates ; and before each gate, 
three or four miles distant, is a great town or city. That 
city is situated upon a great lake on the sea, like Venice. 
And in that city are more than twelve thousand bridges ; and 
upon every bridge are strong and good towers, in which dwell 
the wardens, to keep the city from the great chan. And on 
the one side of the city runs a great river all along the city. 
And there dwell Christians, and many merchants and other 
people of divers nations, because the land is so good and 
abundant. And there grows very good wine, which they call 
bigon, which is very strong and mild in drinking. This is a 
royal city, where the king of Mancy formerly resided ; and 
there dwell many religious men, much resembling the order 
of friars, for they are mendicants. 

From that city men go by water, solacing and disporting 

* This is the city called by Marco Polo (from whom Maundeville appears 
to have abridged his description) Kin-sai. It was the capital of Southern 
China, under the dynasty of the Song. 

A.D. 132^.] CHINA. S31 

them, till tliey come to an abbey of monks fast by, who are 
good religious men, after their faith and law. In that abbey 
is a great and fair garden, where are many trees of divers 
kinds of fruits ; and m this garden is a little hill, full 
of pleasant trees. In that hill and garden are various 
animals, as apes, monkeys, baboons, and many other divers 
beasts ; and every day, when the monks have eaten, the 
almoner carries what remains to the garden, and strikes on 
the garden gate with a silver clicket that he holds in his hand, 
and anon all the beasts of the hill, and of divers places of the 
garden, come out, to the number of three or four thousand; 
mid they come in manner of poor men ; and men give them the 
remnants in fair vessels of silver gilt. And when they have 
eaten, the monk strikes again on the garden gate with the 
clicket, and all the beasts return to the places they came from. 
And they say that these beasts are souls of worthy men, that 
resemble in likeness the beasts that are fair; and therefore 
they give them meat for the love of God. And the other 
beasts, that are foul, they say, are souls of poor men ; and 
thus they believe, and no man may put them out of this 
opinion. These beasts they take when they are young, and 
nourish them thus with alms, as many as they may find. And 
I asked them if it had not been better to have given that 
relief to poor men, rather than to the beasts. And they an- 
swered me, and said that they had no poor men amongst them 
in that country ; and though it had been so that poor men 
had been among them, yet were it greater alms to give it to 
those souls that here do their penance. Many other marvels 
are in that city, and in the country thereabout, that were too 
long to tell you. 

From that city men go by land six days to another city 
called Chilenfo, of which the walls are twenty miles in cir- 
cumference. In that city are sixty bridges of stone, so fair 
that no man may see fairer. In that city was the first seat 
of the king of Mancy, for it is a fair city and plentiful in all 
goods. Hence we pass across a great river called Dalay, 
■which is the greatest river of fresh w^ater in the world ; for 
where it is narrov/est it is more than four miles broad. And 
then men enter again the land of the great chan. That river 
goes through the land of pigmies, where the people are small, 
but three spans long*; and they are right fair and gentle. 
* Part of this account is taken from Pliny, Hist. Nat., vii. 2. 

233 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

both the men and the women. They marry ^vhen they are 
half a year of age, and get children ; and they live but six or 
seven years at most ; and he that liveth eight years is consi- 
dered very aged. These men are the best workers of gold, 
silver, cotton, silk, and of all such things, that are in the 
world. x\nd they have oftentimes war with the birds of the 
country, which they take and eat. This little people neither la- 
bour in lands nor in vineyards ; but they have great men amongst 
them, of our stature, who till the land and labour amongst the 
vines for them. And of the men of our stature they have as 
great scorn and w^onder as we should have among us of giants. 
There is a great and fair city amongst others, with a large 
population of the little people ; and there are great men dwelling 
amongst them ; but when they get children they are as little 
as the pigmies ; and therefore they are for the most part all 
pigmies, for the nature of the land is such. 

From that city men go by land, by many cities and 
towns, to a city called Jamchay, w'hich is noble and rich, and 
of great profit to the lord ; and thither go men to seek all 
kinds of merchandise. The lord of the country hath every 
year, for rent of that city, (as they of the city say,) fifty 
thousand cumants of florins of gold ; for they count there all 
by cumants, and every cumant is ten thousand florins of gold. 
The king of that country is very powerful, yet he is under the 
great chan, who hath under him twelve such provinces. In 
that country, in the good towns, is a good custom ; for whoever 
will make a feast to any of his friends, there are certain inns 
in every good town ; and he that will make a feast will say to 
the host, " Array for me, to-morrow, a good dinner for so 
many people," and tells him the number, and devises him 
the viands ; and he says, also, " Thus much I will spend, and 
no more." And anon the host arrays for him, so fair, and 
so well, and so honestly, that there shall lack nothing ; and 
it shall be done sooner, and with less cost, than if it were 
done in his own house. Five miles from that city, towards 
the head of the river of Dalay, is another city, called jMenke, 
in which is a strong navy of ships, all white as snow, from the 
colour of the trees of which they are made ; and they are very 
great and fair ships, and well ordained, and made with halls 
and chambers, and other easements, as though it were on 
land. From thence men go by many towns and many cities to 
a city called Lanteryne, eight days from the city last mentioned. 


This city is situated upon a fair, great, and broad river, called 
Caramaron, which passes through Cathay ; and it often over- 
flows and does much harm. 

Chapter XX. 


Cathay is a great country, fair, noble, rich, and full of mer- 
chants. Thither merchants go to seek spices and all manner 
of merchandises, more commonly than in any other part. 
And you shall understand that merchants who come from 
Genoa, or from Venice, or from Romania, or other parts 
of Lombardy, go by sea and by land eleven or twelve months, 
or more sometimes, before they reach the isle of Cathay, 
which is the principal region of all parts beyond; and it 
belongs to the great chan. From Cathay men go tow^ards 
the east, by many days' journey, to a good city, between these 
others, called Sugarmago, one of the best stored with silk and 
other merchandises in the world. Then men come to another 
old city, towards the east, in the province of Cathay, near 
which the men of Tartary have made another city, called 
Caydon, which has twelve gates. And between the two gates 
there is always a great mile ; so that the two cities, that is to 
say the old and the new, have in circuit more than twenty 
miles. In this city is the seat of the great chan, in a very 
great palace, the fairest in the world, the walls of which are 
in circuit more than two miles ; and within the walls it is all 
full of other palaces. And in the garden of the great palace 
there is a great hill, upon which there is another palace, the 
fairest and richest that any man may devise. And all about 
the palace and the hill are many trees, bearing divers fruits. 
And all about that hill are great and deep ditches ; and beside 
them are great fish-ponds, on both sides ; and there is a very 
fair bridge to pass over the ditches. And in these fish-ponds 
are an extraordinary number of wild geese and ganders, and 
wdld ducks, and swans, and herons. And all about these 
ditches and fish-ponds is the great garden, fall of wild beasts, 
so that, w^hen the great chan will have any sport, to take any 
of the wild beasts, or of the fowls, he will cause them to be 
driven, and take them at the windows, without going out of his 

234 SIR JOHN MAUNDETILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

chamber. Within the palace, in the hall,J:here aj[£_twent^ 
Jour pilla xs of fine gold; and all the walls are covered within 
v\^ith red skins of animals called panthers, fair beasts and well 
smelling; so that, for the sweet odour of the skins, no evil 
air may enter into the palace. The skins are as red as blood, 
and shine so bright against the sun that a man may scarcely 
look at them. And many people worship the beasts when they 
meet them first in a morning, for their great virtue and for 
the good smell that they have ; and the skins they value more 
than if they were plates of fine gold. And in the middle of 
this palace is the mountourt- of the great chan, all wrought of 
gold, and of precious stones, and great pearls ; and at the four 
corners are four serpents of gold; and all about there are 
made large nets of silk and gold, and great pearls hanging all 
about it. And under the mountour are conduits of beverage 
that they drink in the emperor s court. And beside the con- 
duits are many vessels of gold, with which they that are 
of the household drink at the conduit. The hall of the 
palace is full nobly arrayed, and full marvellously attired on 
all parts, in all things that men apparel any hall with. And 
first, at the head of tne hall, is the emperor's throne, very 
high, where he sits at meat. It is of fine pmau s stnue^i;., 
bordered all about with purifieC~.gQld, and. precious stonesT". 
and great pearls. And the steps up to the table are of pre- 
cious stones, mixed with gold. And at the left side of the 
emperor's seat is the seat of his first wife, one step lower 
than the emperor; and it is of jasper, bordered with gold and 
precious stones. And the seat of his second wife is lower than 
his first wife ; and is also of jasper, bordered with gold, as 
that other is. And the seat of the third wife is still lower, 
by a step, than the second wife ; for he has always three 
wives with him, wherever he is. And after his wives, on the 
same side, sit the ladies of his lineage, still lower, according 
to their ranks. And all those that are married have a coun- 
terfeit, made like a man's foot, upon their heads, a cubit long, 
all wrought with great, fine, and orient pearls, and above 
made with peacocks' feathers, and of other shining feathers; 
and that stands upon their heads like a crest, in tok£n,th.a.tjJi,fijL. 
ai'e under man's Toot, and under su bjection of man ^ And they 

* This is the word used in the English version. The Latin has ascensorutmf 
and the French, moimtaynette. 

A.D. 1322.] THE GREAT CHAN. 2S5 

that are unmarried have none such. And after, at the right 
side of the emperor, first sits his eldest son, who shall reign 
after him, one step lower than the emperor, in such manner 
of seats as do the empresses ; and after him other great lords 
of his lineage, each of them a step lower than the other, ac- 
cording to their rank. The emperor has his table alone 
by himself, which is of gold and precious stones ; or of crystal, 
bordered with gold and full of precious stones ; or of amethysts, 
or of lignum aloes, that comes out of Paradise ; or of ivory, bound 
or bordered with gold. And each of his wives has also her 
table by herself. And his eldest son, and the other lords 
also, and the ladies, and all that sit with the emperor, have 
very rich tables, alone by themselves. And under the em- 
peror's table sit four clerks, who write all that the emperor 
says, be it good or evil; for all that he says must be held 
good ; for he may not change his word nor revoke it. 

At great feasts, men bring, before the emperor's table, great 
-tables of gold, and thereon are peacocks of gold, and many 
other kinds of different fowls, all of gold, and richly 
wrought and enamelled ; and they make them dance and sing, 
clapping their wings together, and making great noise ; and 
whether it be by craft or by necromancy I know not, but it is a 
goodly sight to behold. But I have the less marvel, because 
they are the most skilful men in the world in all sciences 
and in all crafts ; for in subtility, malice, and forethought 
they surpass all men under heaven ; and therefore they say 
themselves that they see with two eyes, and the Christians 
see but with one, because they are more subtle than they. I 
busied myself much to learn that craft ; but the master told 
me that he had made a vow to his god to teach it no creature, 
but only to his eldest son. Also above the emperor's table 
and the other tables, and above a great part of the hall, is a 
vine made of fine gold, which spreads all about the hall ; and 
it has many clusters of grapes, some white, some green, 
some yellow, some red, and some black, all of precious stones: 
the white are of crystal, beryl, and iris ; the yellow, of to- 
pazes ; the red, of rubies, grenaz, and alabraundines ; the 
green, of emeralds, of perydoz, and of chrysolites^; and the 
black, of onyx and garnets. And they are all so properly 

* These are old names of precious stones, which it would not be very easf 
now to explain. 

236 STB JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

made, that it appears a real vine, bearing natural grapes. 
And before the emperor's table stand great lords, and rich 
barons, and others, that serve the emperor at meat ; and no 
man is so bold as to speak a word, unless the emperor speak 
to him, except minstrels, that sing songs and tell jests or 
other disports to solace the emperor. And all the vessels that 
men are served with, in the hall or in chambers, are of pre- 
cious stones, and especially at great tables, either of jasper, 
or of crystal, or of amethyst, or of fine gold. And the cups 
are of emeralds, and sapphires, or topazes, of perydoz, and 
of many other precious stones. Vessel of silver is there 
none, for they set no value on it, to make vessels of; but 
they make therewith steps, and pillars, and pavements, to 
halls and chambers. And before the hall door stand many 
barons and knights full armed, to hinder any one from en- 
tering, unless by the will or command of the emperor, except 
they be servants or minstrels of the household. 

And you shall understand that my fellows and T, with our 
yeomen, served this emperor, and were his soldiers, fifteen 
months, against the king of Mancy, who was at war with him, 
because we had great desire to see his nobleness, and the 
estate of his court, and all his government, to know if it were 
such as we heard say. And truly we found it more noble, 
and more excellent and rich, and more marvellous, than ever 
we heard, insomuch that we would never have believed it 
had we not seen it. For it is not there as it is here. For 
the lords here have a certain number of people as they may 
suffice ; but the great chan hath every day people at his cost 
and expense without number. But the ordinance, nor the 
expenses in meat and drink, nor the honesty, nor the clean- 
liness, is not so arranged there as it is here ; for all the com- 
mons there eat without cloth upon their knees ; and they eat 
all manner of flesh, and little of bread. And after meat 
they wipe their hands upon their skirts, and they eat but once 
a day. But the estate of lords is full great, and rich, and 
noble. And although some men will not believe me, but 
hold it for fable, to tell them the nobleness of his person, and 
of his estate, and of his court, and of the great multitude of 
people that he has, nevertheless I will tell you a little of him 
and of his people, according as I have seen the manner and 
order full many a time ; and whoever will may believe me, 
if he will, and whoever will not, may choose. 

A.D. 1322.] THE GEEAT CHAN. 237 

Chapter XXI. 


First I shall tell you why he was called the great chan. 
You shall understand that all the world was destroyed by 
Noah's flood, except only Noah, and his wife, and his children. 
Noah had three sons, Shem, Cham (i. e. Ham), and Japheth. 
This Cham was he who saw his father naked when he slept, 
and showed him to his brethren in scorn, and therefore he 
was cursed of God. And Japheth turned his face away, and 
covered him. These three brethren shared all the land ; 
and this Cham, for his cruelty, took the greater and the best 
part, toward the east, which is called Asia ; and Shem took 
Africa ; and Japheth took Europe ; and therefore is all the 
earth parted in these three parts, by these three brethren. 
Cham was the greatest and most mighty ; and of him came 
more generations than of the others. And of his son Cusii 
was engendered Nimrod the giant, who was the first king 
that ever was in the world, and he began the foundation of 
the Tower of Babylon. And that time the fiends of hell 
came many times and lay with the women of his generation, 
and engendered on them divers people, as monsters, and peo- 
ple disfigured, some without heads, some with great ears, 
some with one eye, some giants, some with horses' feet, and 
many other different shapes contrary to nature. And of that 
generation of Cham are come the Pagans, and different people 
that are in islands of the sea about India. And forasmuch as 
he was the most mighty, and no man might withstand him, 
he called himself the son of God, and sovereign of all the 
world. And on account of this Cham, this emperor called 
himself chan and sovereign of all the world. And of the gene- 
ration of Shem are come the Saracens. And of the genera- 
tion of Japheth came the people of Israel. And though we 
dwell in Europe, this is the opinion that the Syrians and the 
Samaritans have amongst them, and that they told me before 
I went towards India ; but I found it otherwise. Neverthe- 
less the truth is this — that Tartars, and they that dwell in 
Greater Asia, came of Cham. But the emperor of Cathay 
was called not cham, but chan ; and I shall tell you how 


It is but little more than eight score years since all Tartary 
was in subjection and servage to other nations about ; for they 
^Yere but herdsmen, and did nothing but keep beasts, and lead 
them to pastures. But among them they had seven principal 
nations that were sovereigns of them all, of which the hrst 
nation or lineage was called Tartar; and that is the most 
noble and the most praised. The second lineage is called 
Tanghot ; the third, Eurache ; the fourth, Valair ; the fifth, 
Semoche; the sixth, Me gly; the seventh, Coboghe. Now it 
]}efell that of the first lineage succeeded an old worthy man, 
tliat was not rich, who was called Changuys-'i^. This man lay 
one night in bed, and he saw in a vision that there came be- 
fore him a knight armed all in w^hite, and he sat upon a white 
horse, and said to him, " Chan, sleepest thou? The im- 
mortal God hath sent me to thee ; and it is his will that thou 
go to the seven lineages, and say to them that thou shalt be 
their emperor; for thou shalt conquer the lands and the 
countries that are about ; and they that march upon you shall 
be under your subjection, as you have been under theirs ; for 
that is God s immortal will." Changuys arose, and went to 
the seven lineages, and told them what the white knight had 
said. And they scorned him, and said that he was a fool ; 
and so he departed from them all ashamed. And the night 
following, this white knight came to the seven lineages, and 
commanded them, on behalf of the immortal God, that they 
should miake this Changuys their emperor, and they should 
be out of subjection, and they should hold all other regions 
about them in servage, as they had been to them before. 
And next day they chose him to be their emperor, and set 
him upon a black chest, and after that lifted him up with 
great solemnity, and set him in a chair of gold, and did him 
all manner of reverence ; and they called him chan, as the 
white knight called him. And when he was thus chosen, he 
would make trial if he might trust in them or not, and whe- 
ther they would be obedient to him, and then he made many 
statutes and ordinances, that they call X^LChan. '^The first 
statute was, that they should believe in and obey immortal God, 
who is almighty, and who would cast them out of servage, and 
they should at all times call to him for help in time of need. 

* This was the famous Ghengis-khan, who ruled the Moguls from 1176 to 
1227, and was the founder of the Tartar empire. It is needles& to say that 
the history MaundeviUe gives of his accession is a mere fable. 


The second statute was, that all manner of men that might 
bear arms should be numbered, and to every ten should be a 
master, and to every hundred a master, and to every thousand 
a master, and to every ten thousand a master. After, he com- 
manded the principals of the seven lineages to leave and for- 
sake all they had in goods and heritage, and from thenceforth 
to be satisfied with what he would give them of his grace. 
And they did so immediately. After this he commanded the 
principals of the seven lineages, that each should bring his 
eldest son before him, and with their own hands smite off their 
heads without delay. And immediately his command was 
performed. And when the chan saw that they made no ob- 
stacle to perform his commandment, then he thought that he 
might well trust in them, and he commanded them presently to 
make them ready, and to follow his banner. And after this, 
the chan put in subjection all the lands about him. After- 
wards it befell on a day, that the chan rode with a few com- 
panies to behold the strength of the country that he had won, 
and a great multitude of his enemies met with him, and to 
give good example of bravery to his people, he was the first 
that fought, and rushed into the midst of his enemies, and 
there was thrown Irom his horse, and his horse slain. And 
when his people saw him on the earth, they were all dis- 
couraged, and thought he had been dead, and fled every one ; 
and their enemies pursued them, but they knew not that the 
emperor was there. And when they were returned from the 
pursuit, they sought the woods, if any of them had been hid 
in them ; and many they found and slew. So it happened 
that as they went searching toward the place where the em- 
peror was, they saw-mxoy^d sittingvon a, treaabova M^^^ 
then they said amongst tEem that there was no man there, 
because they saw" the bird there, and so they went their way; 
and thus the emperor escaped death. And then he went 
secretly by night, till he came to his people, who were very 
glad of his coming, and gave great thanks to immortal God, 
and to that bird by which their lord was saved ; and therefore, 
above all fowls of the world, they worship the owl ; and when 
they have any of its feathers, they keep them full preciously, 
instead of relics, and bear them upon their heads with great 
reverence ; and they hold themselves blessed, and safe from 
all perils, while they have these feathers on them, and there- 
fore they bear them upon their heads. After all this the chan 


assembled liis people, and went against those who had assailed 
him before, and destroyed them, and put them in subjection 
and servage. And when he had won and put all the lands and 
countries on this side Mount Belian in subjection, the white 
knight came to him again in his sleep, and said to him, 
"Chan, the will of immortal God is, that thou pass Mount 
Belian; and thou shalt win the land, and thou shalt put many 
nations in subjection ; and because thou shalt find no good 
passage to go toward that country, go to Mount Belian, wiiich 
is upon the sea, and kneel there nine times towards the east, 
in the worship of immortal God, and he shall show the w^ay 
to pass by." And the chan did so. And soon the sea, that 
touched and was close to the mountain, began to withdraw it- 
self, and exhibited a fair way of nine feet broad ; and so he 
passed with his people, and won the land of Cathay, which is 
the greatest kingdom in the world. And on account of the 
nine kneelings, and the nine feet of way, the chan and all 
the men of Tartaryhave the number nine in great reverence*. 
And, therefore, he that will make the chan any present, be it 
horses, birds, arrows, bows, or fruit, or any other thing, he 
must always make it of the number nine ; and so the presents 
are more agreeable to him, and better received, than if he 
were presented with a hundred or two hundred. Also, when 
the chan of Cathay had won the country of Cathay, and put 
in subjection many countries about, he fell sick. And when 
he felt that he should die, he said to his twelve sons, that 
each of them should bring him one of his arrows, and so they 
did anonf. And then he commanded that they should bind 
them together in three places, and then he gave them to his 
eldest son, and bade him break them ; and he exerted him- 
self with all his might to break them, but he might not. 
And then the chan bade his second son break them, and so 
to the others, one after another; but none of them might 
break them. And then he bade the youngest son separate 
them from each other, and break every one by itself; and so 
he did. And then said the chan to his eldest son, and to all 

* Veneration for peculiar numbers was a very general superstition, and 
the number three, and its multiple, nine, were, in particular, in universal 

+ This story of the king and the twelve arrows is told in very nearly 
the same manner in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments; and the sub- 
stance of a well-known fable will be easily recognised in it. 

A.D. 1322.] HISTORY OF THE CHANS. 241 

the Others, ** Wherefore might you not hreak them?" And 
they answered that they might not, because they were bound 
together. *'And wherefore," quoth he, "hath your little 
youngest brother broke them?" "Because," quoth they, 
" they were separated from each other." Then said the chan, 
" My sons, truly thus will it fare with you ; for as long as 
you are bound together in three places, that is to say, in love, 
truth, and good accord, no man shall have power to grieve 
you ; but if you be divided from these three places, that one 
of you help not the other, you shall be destroyed and brought 
to nothing ; and if each of you love each other, and help each 
other, you shall be lords and sovereigns over all other people." 
And w4en he had made his ordinances he died : and then, 
after him, reigned Ecchecha* Chan, his eldest son. And his 
other brethren went to subdue many countries and kingdoms, 
unto the land of Prussia and Russia, and took the name of 
chans, but they were all subject to their eldest brother, and 
therefore was he called great chan. After Ecchecha reigned 
Guyof Chan, and after him Mango J Chan, who was a good 
Christian man, and baptized and gave letters of perpetual 
peace to all Christian men, and sent his brother Halaon, with 
a great multitude of people, to win the Holy Land, and put it 
into the hands of the Christians, and destroy the law of Mo- 
hammed, and take the khalif of Bagdad, who was emperor 
and lord of all the Saracens. And when this khalif was 
taken, they found him so rich in treasure, and of so high 
worship, that in all the rest of the world no man might find 
a man higher in worship. And then Halaon made him come 
before him, and said to him, ^' Why hadst thou not hired 
with thee more soldiers for a little quantity of treasure, to 
defend thee and thy country, who art so abundant of treasure 
and so high in all worship?" And the khalif answered, that 
he believed he had enough of his own proper men. iVnd 
then said Halaon, " Thou wert as a god of the Saracens ; and 

* Oktai-khan, who ruled over the Tartars from 1229 (having been absent 
in China when his father died) to 1241. 

+ Gaiouk reigned from 1246 to 1249. The death of his predecessor had 
been followed by a regency. 

:): Mango-khan, after another regency, succeeded in 1251 ; and after con- 
quering Persia and other countries, died in 1259. This monarch was made 
known to Europeans by the embassy of William de Rubruquis and others, 
and excited interest in the west by the report of his conversion to Chris- 



it is convenient to a god to eat no meat that is mortal ; and, 
therefore, thou shalt eat only precious stones, rich pearls, and 
treasure, that thou lovest so much." And then he ordered 
him to prison, and placed all his treasure about him; and so 
he died for hunger and thirst. And then after this Halaon 
won all the Land of Promise, and put it into the hands of the 
Christians. But the great chan, his brother, died, and that 
was great sorrow and loss to all Christians. After Mango 
Chan reigned Cobyla ^ Chan, who was also a Christian, and 
reigned forty-two years. He founded the great city Igonge 
in Cathay, which is much larger than Rome. The other great 
chan who came after him, became a pagan, and all the others 

The kingdom of Cathay is the greatest realm in the w^orld ; 
and the great chan is the most powerful em_peror and greatest 
lord under the firmament; and so he calls himself in his let- 
ters right thus : " Chan, son of the high God, emperor of all 
who inhabit the earth, and lord of all lords." And the letter of 
his great seal has the inscription, " God in heaven, chan upon the 
earth, his fortitude ; the seal of the emperor of all men." And 
the superscription about his little seal is this: " The fortitude 
of God ; the seal of the emperor of all men." And although 
they are not christened, yet the emperor and all the Tartars 
believe in immortal God ; and when they will threaten any 
man, they say, "God knoweth well that I shall do thee such 
a thing," and tell their menace 

Chapter XXII. 




Xow shall I tell you the government of the court of the great 
chan, when he makes solemn feasts, which is principally 
four times in the year. The first feast is of his birth ; the 
second is of his presentation in their temple, such as they call 
here moseache (mosque), where they make a kind of circum- 
cision ; and the other two feasts are of his idols. The first 

* Mango's successor was the celebrated Houlagou (1259 to 1265), who 
was followed in succession by eight khans between then and the time when 
Maundeville wrote. These were followed, in 1360, by the famous Timur-beg, 
or Tamerlane. 

AD. 1322.] THE CHAN's COURT. 243 - 

feast of the idol is, when he is first put into their temple and 
throned. The other feast is, when the idol begins first to 
speak or work miracles. There are no more solemn feasts, 
except when he marries one of his children. At each of 
these feasts he hath great multitudes of people, well ordained 
and well arrayed, by thousands, by hundreds, and by tens. 
Every man knoweth well what service he shall do ; and every 
man gives so good heed and so good attendance to his ser- 
vice, that no man finds any fault. There are first ap- 
pointed four thousand barons, mighty and rich, to govern and 
make ordinance for the feast, and to serve the emperor. 
And these solemn feasts are held in halls and tents made 
full nobly of cloths of gold and of tartaries. All the barons 
have crowns of gold upon their heads, very noble and rich, 
full of precious stones and great orient pearls. And they are 
all clothed in clothes of gold, or of tartaries, or of camakas, 
so richly and perfectly, that no man in the world can amend 
it or devise better ; and all these robes are embroidered with 
gold all about, and dubbed full of precious stones and of 
great orient pearls, full richly. And they may well do so, for 
cloths of gold and of silk are cheaper there by much, than 
are cloths of wool. These four thousand barons are divided 
into four companies, and every thousand is clothed in cloths 
all of one colour, and so well arrayed, and so richly, that 
it is marvel to behold. The first thousand, which is of 
dukes, earls, marquises, and admirals, all in cloths of gold, 
w^ith tissues of green silk, and bordered with gold, full 
of precious stones. The second thousand is all in cloths 
diapered of red silk, all wrought with gold, and the 
orfrayes set full of great pearls and precious stones, full 
nobly wrought. The third thousand is clothed in cloths 
of silk, of purple, or of India. And the fourth thousand is 
in clothes of yellow. And all their clothes are so nobly and 
richly wrought with gold and precious stones and rich pearls, 
that if a man of this country had but one of their robes, he 
might well say that he should never be poor. For the gold 
and the precious stones, and the great orient pearls, are of 
greater value on this side the sea than in those countries. 
And when they are thus apparelled, they go two and two 
together, full orderly, before the emperor, without uttering a 
word, only bowing to him. And each of them carries a 
tablet of jasper, or ivory, or crystal; and the minstrels go 

E 2 


before them, sounding their instruments of divers melody. 
"When the first thousand is thus passed, and hath made its 
muster, it withdraws on the one side; and then enters 
the second thousand, and proceeds in the same manner of 
array and countenance as the first; and so the third, and 
then the fourth ; and none of them utters a word. And at 
one side of the emperor's table sit many philosophers, who 
are proved for wise men in many divers sciences, as in 
astronomy, necromancy, geomancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, 
augury, and many other sciences. And each of them has 
before him, some, astrolabes of gold, some, spheres, some, the 
skull of a dead man, some, vessels of gold full of gravel or 
sand, some, vessels of gold full of burning coals, some, vessels 
of gold full of water, wine, and oil, and some, horloges (clocks) of 
gold, made full nobly and richly wrought, and many other 
sorts of instruments after their sciences. And at certain 
hours they say to certain officers who stand before them, 
appointed for the time to fulfil their commands, " Make 
peace." And then the officers say, "Now peace, listen." And 
after that another of the philosophers says, " Every man do 
reverence, and bow to the emperor, who is God's son and 
sovereign lord of all the world ; for now is time." And then 
every man bows his head towards the earth. And then the 
same philosopher commands again, '* Stand up." And they 
do so. And at another hour another philosopher says, " Put 
your little finger in your ears." And anon they do so. And 
at another hour another philosopher says, " Put your hand 
before your mouth." And anon they do so. And at another 
hour another philosopher says, '* Put your hand upon your 
head." And after that he biddeth them to take their hand 
away, and they do so. And so, from hour to hour, they com- 
mand certain things. And they say that those things have 
divers significations. I asked them privately what those 
things betokened. And one of the masters told me that the 
bowing of the head at that* hour betokened that all tho^e 
that bowed their heads should evern!ore after be obedient and 
true to the emperor. And the putting of the little finger in the 
ear betokens, as they say, that none of them shall hear any thing 
spoken contradictory to the emperor, without telling it anon 
to his council, or discovering it to some men that will make 
relation to the emperor. And so forth of all other things 
done by the philosophers. And no man performs any duty to 


the emperor, either clothing, or bread, or ^vine, or bath, or 
other thing that belongeth to him, but at certain hours, as his 
philosophers devise well. And if there fall war, anon the 
philosophers come and give their advice after their calcula- 
tions, and counsel the emperor by their sciences ; so that the 
emperor does nothing without their council. And when the 
philosophers have done and performed their commands, then 
the minstrels begin to do their minstrelsy on their different 
instruments, each after the other, with all the melody they can 
devise. And when they have performed a good while, one of the 
officers of the emperor goes up on a high stage, wrought 
full curiously, and cries and says with a loud voice, " Make 
peace." And then every man is still. And then, anon after, 
all the lords of the emperor's lineage, nobly arrayed in rich 
clothes of gold, and royally apparelled on white steeds, as 
many as may well follow^ him at that time, are ready to make 
their presents to the emperor. And then says the steward 
of the court to the lords, by name, " N. of N.," and names 
first the most noble and the worthiest by name, and says, 
"Be ye ready with such a number of white horses to serve 
the emperor your sovereign lord." And, to another lord, he 
says, " N. of N. be ye ready with such a number to serve 
your sovereign lord." And to another, right so. And to all 
the lords of the emperors lineage, one after the other, as 
they are of estate. And when they are all called, they 
enter one after the other, and present the white horses 
to the emperor, and then go their way. And then, all the 
other barons, one by one, give him presents, or jewels, or 
some other thing, according to their rank. And then, after 
them, all the prelates of their law, and religious men and 
others ; and every man gives him something. And w-hen all 
men have thus offered to the emperor, the greatest of dignity 
of the prelates gives him a blessing, saying an orison of 
their law. And then begin the minstrels to make their 
minstrelsy on divers instruments, with all the melody that 
they can devise. When they have done their craft, then 
they bring in before the emperor lions, leopards, and other 
divers ' beasts, and eagles, and vultures, and other divers 
fowds, and fishes, and serpents, to do him reverence. And 
then come jugglers and enchanters that do many marvels ; 
for they cause the sun and the moon to come in the air, appa- 
rently, to every man's sight. And afterwards they make the 


night so dark that no man may see. And after that they 
make the day to come again, fair and pleasant, with bright 
sun, to every man s sight. And then they bring in dancers 
of the fairest damsels in the world, and most richly arrayed 
Next they cause to come in other damsels bringing cups 
of gold full of milk of divers beasts, who give drink to 
lords and to ladies. And then they make knights to joust 
in arms full lustily; and they run together and fight iul\ 
fiercely; and they break their spears so rudely that the 
fragments fly in pieces all about the hall. And then 
they cause to come in hunting for the hart and for the 
boar, with hounds running with open mouth. And many 
other things they do by craft of their enchantments, which it 
is marvellous to see. And such plays of sport they make, 
until the taking up of the boards. 

This great chan hath a vast multitude of people to serve 
him, as I have told you before. For he hath of minstrels the 
number of thirteen cumants, but they abide not always with 
him. For all the minstrels that come before him, of whatever 
nation they are, are retained with him, as of his household, 
and entered in his books as for his own men. And after 
that, wherever they go, evermore they rank as minstrels of 
the great chan; and, under that title, all kings and lords 
cherish them the more with gifts and all things. And there- 
fore he hath so great multitude of them. And he hath of 
certain men, as though they were yeomen, that keep birds, 
as ostriches, gerfaucons, sparrow-hawks, gentle falcons, Ian- 
yers, sacres, sacrettes-'s well speaking parrots, and singing 
birds, and also of wild beasts, as of elephants, tame and 
others, baboons, apes, monkeys, and other divers beasts, to 
the number of fifteen cumants of yeomen. And of Christian 
physicians he has two hundred ; and of leeches f that are 
Christians, he has two hundred and ten ; and of leeches and 
physicians that are Saracens, twenty ; for he trusts more in 
the Christian leeches than in the Saracens. And his other 
common household is without number ; all having all neces- 

* These are the names of different birds used in hawking. 

+ Leech was the old English name for one class of medical practitioners. 
It is employed here in contradistinction to physicians, and I have not ven- 
tured to assign a modern equivalent. The preference given to Christian 
physicians is somewhat curious Avhen we compare it with a similar feeling 
existing in the East at the present day. 


saries from the emperor's court. And he has in his court 
many barons, as servitors, that are Christians and converted 
to good faith by the preaching of religious Christian men 
who dwell with him, and there are many that will not have it 
known that they are Christians. 

This emperor may spend as much as he will, without estima- 
tion, for his only money is of leather imprinted, or of paper, of 
which some is of greater price and some of less, after the 
diversity of his statutes-''. And when that money has run so 
long that it begins to waste, men carry it to the emperor's 
treasury, and receive new money for the old. And that 
money passes throughout the country. For there, and beyond 
them, they make no money of gold or silver. Therefore, he 
may spend very largely. And of gold and silver that men 
have in this country, he makes ceilings, pillars, and pave- 
ments in his palace, and other divers things. This emperor 
hath in his chamber, in one of the pillars of gold, a ruby and 
a carbuncle of half a foot long, which in the night gives so 
great light and shining, that it is as light as day. And he 
hath many other precious stones, and many other rubies and 
carbuncles, but those are the greatest and most precious. 

This emperor dwells in summer in a city towards the 
north, called Saduz, where it is cold; and in winter he dwells 
in a city called Camaaleche, in a hot country. But the 
country where he dwells most commonly is in Gaydo, or in 
^ngr^ good and temperate country after the weather that 
is there ; but, to men of our part of the world, it is exces- 
sively hot. And when this emperor will ride from one 
country to another, he appoints four hosts of his people, of 
the which, the first host goes before him a day's journey, for 
that host shall be lodged the night where the emperor sliall 
lie upon the morrow. And there shall every man have all 
manner of victuals and necessaries at the emperor's cost. 
And in this first host the number of people is fifty cumants 
of horse and foot, of which every cumant amounts to ten 
thousand, as I have told you before. And another host goes 
on the right side of the emperor, nigh half a day's journey from 
him; and another goes on the left side of him, in the same 
manner. And in every host is the same number of people. 

* Paper money was in common use among the Tartars and Chinese at an 
early period. See, on this curious subject, the travels of Marco Polo. 


Tlien after comes the fourth host, which is much greater than 
anj of the other, and goes behind him, the distance of a 
bow's draught. And every host has its day's journey or- 
dained in certain places, where they shall be lodged at night, 
and there they shall have all they need. And if it befall that 
one of the host die, anon they put another in his place, so 
that the number shall ever be complete. And you shall 
understand that the emperor, in person, rides not as other 
great lords do, unless he choose to go privately with few men, 
to be imknown. Otherwise, he sits in a chariot with four 
wheels, upon which is made a fair chamber ; and it is made 
of a certain wood that comes out of terrestrial paradise, which 
they call lignum aloes. And this chamber is fall well 
smelling, because of the wood it is made of; and it is all 
covered internally with plates of fine gold, dubbed with pre- 
cious stones and great pearls. And four elephants and four 
great steeds, all white and covered with rich coverings, draw 
the chariot. And four, or five, or six of the greatest lords 
ride about this chariot, full richly and nobly arrayed, so that 
no man shall approach the chariot except those lords, unless 
the emperor call any man to him that he wishes to speak 
with. And above the chamber of this chariot in which the 
emperor sits, are set upon a perch four, or five, or six gerfau- 
cons, to that intent, that when the emperor sees any wild 
fowl, he may take it at his own list, and have the sport, 
first with one and then with another ; and so he takes his 
sport passing through the country. And no man of his 
company rides before him, but all after him. And no man 
dare approach within a bow-shot of the chariot, except those 
lords only that are about him ; and all the host come fairly 
after him, in great multitude. And also such another chariot, 
with such hosts, ordained and arrayed, go with the empress 
upon another side, each by itself, with four hosts, right as 
the emperor did, but not with so great multitude of people. 
And his eldest son goes by another way in another chariot, in 
the same manner. So that there is between them so great 
multitude of folks that it is marvellous to tell it. And 
sometimes it happens that when he will not go far, and he 
chooses to have the empress and his children with him, that 
they go all together; and then the people are mixed in one 
company, and divided in four parts only. 

The empire of this great chan is divided into twelve pro- 


vinces ; and every province lias more than t^vo thousand 
cities, and towns without number. This country is very ex- 
tensive, for it has twelve principal kii^s in twelve provinces ; 
and each of those kings has many kings under him ; and they 
are all subject to the great chan. And his land and lordship 
extends so far that a man may not go from one end to the 
other, either by sea or land, in less than seven years. And 
through the deserts of his lordship, where are no towns, there 
are inns appointed at every day's journey, to receive both man 
and horse, in which they shall find plenty of victuals and all 
things they need in their way. 

And there is a marvellous, but profitable, custom in that 
country, that if there happen any contrary thing that should 
be prejudicial or grievous to the emperor, in any kind, anon 
the emperor has tidings thereof and full knowledge in a day, 
though it be three or four days from him, or more. For his 
envoys take their dromedaries, or their horses, and they 
lide as fast as they may towards one of the inns ; and when 
they come there they blow a horn, and anon they of the inn 
know that there are tidings to w^arn the emperor of some 
rebellion against him ; and they make other men ready, in all 
haste that they may, to carry letters, and ride as fast as they 
may, till they come to the other inns with their letters ; and 
then they make fresh men ready, to ride forth with the letters 
towards the emperor, while the last bringer rests himself, and 
baits his dromedary or horse ; and so from inn to inn, till it 
comes to the emperor. And thus anon he has quick tidings 
of any thing by his couriers, that run so hastily through all 
the country. iVnd, also, when the emperor sends his couriers 
in haste throughout his land, each of them has a large thong 
full of small bells ; and when they approach the inns of other 
couriers, they ring their bells ; and anon the other couriers 
make them ready, and run their way to another inn ; and thus 
one runs to another, full speedily and swiftly, till the emperor's 
intent be served in all haste. And these couriers are called 
chydydo, after their language, that is to say, a messenger. 

Also when the emperor goes from one country to another, 
as I have told you before, and he passes through cities and 
towns, every man makes a fire before his door, and puts 
therein powder of good gums, that are sweet smelling, to make 
good savour to the emperor ; and all the people kneel down 
towards him, and do him great reverence. And there, where 


Christian monks dwell, as thej do in many cities in the 
land, they go before him in procession, with cross and holy 
water; and they smg^Veni creator spiritus, with a high 
voice, and go towards him. And when he hears them, he 
commands his lords to ride beside him, that the religious men 
may come to him ; and w4ien they are nigh him with the cross, 
then he puts down his galiot, which is placed on his head in the 
manner of a chaplet, made of gold, and precious stones, and 
great pearls ; and it is so rich that men esteem it the value 
of a realm in that country ; and then he kneels to the cross. 
And then the prelate of the monks says before him cer- 
tain orisons, and gives him a blessing with the cross ; and 
he bows to the blessing full devoutly. And then the prelate 
gives Mm some sort of fruit, to the number of nine, in a plate 
of silver ; and he takes one ; and then men give to the other 
lords that are about him ; for the custom is such that no 
stranger shall come before him, unless he give him some 
manner of thing, after the old law, that says. Nemo accedat in 
conspectu meo vacuus-^'. And then the emperor tells the 
monks to withdraw themselves again, that they be not hurt 
by the great multitude of horses that come behind him. And 
also in the same manner do the monks that dwell there 
to the empresses that pass by them, and to his eldest son ; 
and to all of them they present fruit. 

And you shall understand that this multitude of people 
dwell not continually with him, but are sent for when he 
wants them ; and after, when they have done, they return to 
their own households, except those that are dwelling with him 
in the household to serve him, and his wives, and sons. And 
although the others are departed from him after they have 
performed their service, yet there remain continually with 
him in court fifty thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand 
footmen, besides minstrels and those who keep wild beasts 
and birds. There is not, under the firmament, so great a 
lord, nor so mighty, nor so rich, as the great chan ; neither 
Prester John, who is emperor of Upper India, nor the 
sultan of Babylon, nor the emperor of Persia. All these, in 
comparison to the great chan, are neither of might, nobleness, 
royalty, nor riches ; for in all these he surpasses all earthly 
princes. Wherefore it is great harm that he believes not 
faithfully in God. And, nevertheless, he will gladly hear 
* "And none shall appear before me empty." Exod. xxxiv. 20. 

A.D. 132^.] MA^'NERS OF THE TARTARS. 251 

speak of God ; and he willingly allows Christian men to dwell 
in his lordship, and men of his faith to be made Christian 
men, if they will, throughout all his country ; for he forbids 
no man to hold any faith but what he likes. 

In that country some men have one hundred wives, some 
sixty, some more, and some less. And they take the next of 
their kin to wife, excepting only their mothers, daughters, and 
sisters on the mother's side ; but their sisters on the father's 
side, of another woman, they may take ; and their brother's 
wives, also, after their death ; and their stepmothers also in 
the same way. 

Chapter XXIII. 


The people of that country use all long clothes, without furs : 
and they are clothed with precious cloths of Tartary, and 
cloths of gold. And their clothes are slit at the side, and 
fastened with silk lace : and they clothe them also with 
pilches 'I', the hide outside. And they use neither cap nor 
hood. And the women go in the same dress as the men ; so 
that we can hardly distinguish the men from the women, except 
only that the women that are married bear upon their heads the 
token of a man's foot, in sign that they are under man's foot, and 
under the subjection of man. And their wives dwell not together, 
but each of them by herself; and the husband may lie with which 
of them he likes. Each has a separate house, both man and 
woman ; and their houses are made round with staves, with a 
round window above, which gives them light, and also serves 
for the escape of smoke. And the roofing of their houses, 
and the walls, and the doors, are all of wood. 

When they go to war, they take their houses with them 
upon chariots, as men do tents or pavilions. They make their 
fires in the middle of their houses. And they have a great 
multitude of all manner of beasts, except swine, which they do 
not breed. And they believe in one God, who made and 
formed all things ; yet they have idols of gold and silver, and 
of wood, and of cloth, to which they offer always the first milk 

* A kind of garment made of skins with the fur on. In the Latin the 
passage stands, " Habent et pelliceas, quibus utuntur ex transversis ;" in the 
French, " Et vestent des pellices, le peil dehors." 


of their beasts, and also of their meats and drinks .before they 
eat. And they frequently offer horses and beasts. They call 
the god of nature Yroga. Their emperor, whatever name he 
has, they add always to it chan ; and, when I was there, their 
emperor's name was Thiaut, so that he was called Thiaut 
Chan ; and his eldest son was called Tossue ; and when he 
shall be emperor, he shall be called Tossue Chan. And at 
that time the emperor had twelve other sons, named Cuncy, 
Ordii, Chahaday, Buryn, Negu, Nocab, Cadu, Siban, Cuten, 
Balacy, Babylan, and Garegan. And of his three wives, the 
first and the principal, who w^as Prester John's daughter, was 
named Serioche Chan ; and the other Borak Chan ; and the 
other Karanke Chan. 

The people of that country begin all undertakings in the 
new moon ; and they worship much the moon and the sun, 
and often kneel towards them. All the people of the country 
ride commonly without spurs ; but they carry always a little 
w^hip in their hands to urge their horses. And they hold it 
for a great sin to cast a knife in the fire, and to draw flesh out 
of a pot with a knife, and to smite a horse with the handle of 
a whip, or to smite a horse with a bridle, or to break one bone 
with another, or to cast milk or any liquor that men may 
drink upon the earth, or to take and slay little children ; and 
the greatest sin that any man may do is to water in their 
houses that they dwell in. And w^iosoever does so, they slay 
him. And of every one of these sins they must be shriven by 
their priests, and pay a great sum of silver for their penance. 
The place they have thus defiled must be purified before any 
one dare to enter it. And when they have paid their penance, 
men make them pass through a fire, or through two, to cleanse 
them of their sins. And also when any messenger comes and 
brings letters, or any present, to the emperor, he must pass, 
with the thing that he brings, through two burning fires, to 
purge them, that he bring no poison nor venom, nor any 
wicked thing, that might be grievance to the lord. And also, 
if any man or woman be taken in adultery or fornication, anon 
they slay them. The people of that country are all good 
archers, and shoot right well, both men and w^omen, as well 
on horseback, riding, as on foot, running. And the women do 
all things, and exercise all manner of trades and crafts, as of 
clothes, boots, and other thingaf; and they drive carts, joloughs, 
wagons, and chariots ; and make houses, and all manner of 


things, except bows and arrows, and armour, which are made 
by men. And all the women wear breeches, as well as men. 
All the people of that country are very obedient to their 
sovereign, and fight not nor chide with one another. And 
there are neither thieves nor robbers in that country, but 
every man respects the other ; but no man there doth re- 
verence to strangers, except they are great princes. And 
they eat dogs, lions, leopards, mares and foals, asses, rats, 
and mice ; and all kinds of beasts, great and small, except 
only swine, and beasts that w^ere forbidden by the old law. 
They eat but little bread, except in courts of great lords ; and 
they have not, in many places, either peas or beans, nor any 
other pottage but the broth of the flesh ; for they eat little 
else but flesh and the broth. And when they have eaten they 
wipe their hands upon their skirts ; for they use no napkins 
nor towels, except before great lords. And when they have 
eaten, they put their dishes, unw^ashed, into the pot or cauldron, 
with the remnant of the flesh and broth, till the}^ eat again. 
The rich men drink milk of mares, or camels, or of asses, or 
other beasts. And they are easily made drunk with milk, or 
with another drink made of honey and water sodden together ; 
for in that country is neither wine nor ale. They live fall 
wretchedly, and eat but once in the day, and that but little, 
either in courts or other places. Indeed one man alone, in 
our country, will eat more in a day than they will eat in three. 
x\nd if any foreign messenger come there to a lord, men make 
him to eat but once a day, and that very little. 

When they make war they proceed with great prudence, 
and always do their best to destroy their enemies. Every 
man there bears two or three bows, and great plenty of 
arrows, and a great axe ; and the gentlemen have short and 
large spears, very sharp on the one side ; and they have plates 
and helmets made of cuirbouilli ^-j^ ; and their horses' coverings 
are of the same. And whoever flies from battle, they slay 
him. And when they hold a siege about a castle or town, 
which is walled and defensible, they promise them that are 
within to do all the profit and good, that it is marvellous to 
hear ; and they grant also to them that are within all that 
they will ask them; and after they have surrendered, they 
slay them all, and cut off their ears, and they pickle them in 

* Leather boiled soft, and then reduced to any required shape and hardened ; 
a substance very much used for a yariety of purposes in the middle ages. 


vinegar, and thereof make great service for lords. All their 
desire, and all their imagination, is to reduce all countries 
under their subjection; and they say that they know well, by 
their prophecies, that they shall be overcome by archers ; but 
they know not of what nation, nor of what law, they shall be 
who shall overcome them. 

When they will make their idols, or an image of any one 
of their friends, to have remembrance of him, they always 
make the image naked, without any kind of clothing ; for they 
say that in good love there should be no covering, that man 
should not love for the fair clothing, nor for the rich array, 
but only for the body such as God hath made it. 

And you shall understand that it is very perilous to pursue 
the Tartars when they fly in battle; for in flying they shoot 
behind them, and slay both men and horses. And when they 
fight, they close together in a body, so that, if there be twenty 
thousand men, you would not think there were ten thousand. 
They can conquer land of strangers, but they cannot keep it ; 
for they like better to lie in tents without, than in castles or 
in towns. They despise all other people. Amongst them oil 
of olives is very dear ; for they hold it for a very noble medi- 
cine. All the Tartars have small eyes and little beard, and a 
paucity of hair. They are false and traitorous, never keeping 
their promises. They are a very hardy j)eople, and able to 
endure much labour, more than any other people ; for they 
are accustomed thereto in their own country from youth. 

And when any man shall die, they set a spear beside him ; 
and when he draws towards death, every man flies out of the 
house till he is dead ; and after that they bury him in the 
fields. And when the emperor dies, they place him in a 
chair in the centre of his tent, with a clean table before him, 
covered with a cloth, and thereon flesh and divers viands, and 
a cup full of mare's milk. And men put a mare beside him, 
with her foal, and a horse saddled and bridled ; and they lay 
upon the horse great quantities of gold and silver, and they put 
about him great plenty of straw, and they make a great and 
large pit, and, with the tent and all these other things, they 
put him in the earth ; and they say that when he shall come 
into another world, he shall not be without a house, nor with- 
out a horse, nor without gold and silver ; and the mare shall 
give him milk, and bring him forth more horses, till he be 
well stored in the other world ; for they believe that, after 


■their death, they shall be eating and drinking in that other 
world, and solacing themselves with their wives, as they did 
lieje. And after the emperor is thus interred, no man shall 
be so hardy as to speak of him before his friends. Many cause 
themselves to be interred privately by night, in wild places, 
and the grass put again over the pit, to grow ; or they cover 
the pit with gravel and sand, that no man shall perceive where 
the pit is, to the intent that never after may his friends have 
mind or remembrance of him. Then they say that he is 
ravished into another world, where he is a greater lord than 
he was here. And then, after the death of the emperor, the 
seven lineages assemble together and choose his eldest son, or 
the next after him of his blood ; and thus they say to him : — 
" We will, and we pray and ordain, that you be our lord and 
our emperor." And then he answers, " If you will that I 
reign over you as lord, each of you do as I shall command 
him, either to abide or go ; and whomsoever I command to be 
slain, that anon he be slain." And they answer all, with one 
voice, " Whatsoever you command, it shall be done." Then 
says the emperor, " Now understand well that my word from 
henceforth is sharp and biting as a sword." After, they set 
hifn upon a black steed, and so bring him to a chair full richly 
arrayed, and there they crown him. And then all the cities 
and good towns send him rich presents, so that at that day he 
shall have more than sixty chariots laden with gold and silver, 
besides jewels of gold and precious stones, that lords give him, 
that are beyond estimation ; and also horses and cloths of 
gold, and camakas, and cloth of Tartary, that are innumerable. 

Chapter XXIV. 


This land of Cathay is in Central Asia; and after, on this 
side, is Asia the Greater. The kingdom of Cathay borders 
towards the west on the kingdom of Tharse, of which was one of 
the kings that came with presents to our Lord in Bethlehem ; 
and some of those who are of the lineage of that king are 
Christians. In Tharse they eat no flesh, and drink no wine. 
And on this side, towards the west, is the kingdom of Tur- 
kestan, which extends towards the west to the kingdom 
of Persia ; and toward the north to the kingdom of Cho- 
rasm. In the centre of Turkestan are but few good 

256 STR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

cities ; but the best city of that land is called Octorar. There 
are great pastures, but little corn ; and therefore, for the 
most part, they are all herdsmen; and they lie in tents, and 
drink a kind of ale made of honey. 

And after it, on this side, is the kingdom of Chorasm (Kho- 
rasan), which is a good land and a plentiful, but without wine. 
It has a desert toward the east, which extends more than a hun- 
dred days' journey ; and the best city of that country is called 
Chorasm, from which the country takes its name. The 
people of that country are hardy warriors. And on this side 
is the kingdom of Comania, whence were driven the Co- 
manians that dwelt in Greece. This is one of the greatest 
kingdoms of the world, but it is not all inhabited ; for in one 
part there is so great cold, that no man may dwell there ; 
and in another part there is so great heat, that no man can 
endure it ; and also there are so many flies, that no man may 
know on what side he may turn him. In that country is but 
little wood or trees bearing fruit, or others. They lie in tents; 
and they burn the dung of beasts for want of wood. 

This kingdom descends on this side towards us, and towards 
Prussia and Russia. And through that country runs the 
river Ethille, which is one of the greatest rivers in the 
world ; and it freezes so strongly all year, that many times 
men have fought upon the ice with great armies, both parties 
on foot, having quitted their horses for the time ; and what on 
horse and on foot, more than 200,000 persons on every side. 
And between that river and the great Sea of Ocean, which 
they call the Maure Sea^, lie all these kingdoms. And towards 
the head beneath in that ]'ealm is the mountain of Chotaz, which 
is the highest mountain in the world; and it is between the 
Maure Sea and the Caspian Sea. There is a very narrow and 
dangerous passage to go towards India ; and therefore king 
Alexander made there a strong city, which they call Alex- 
andria, to guard the country, that no man should pass without 
his leave ; and now men call that city the Gate of Hell. And 
the principal city of Comania is called Sarak, which is one of 
the three ways to go into India ; but by this way no great 
multitude of people can pass unless it be in winter ; and that 
passage men call the Derbent. The other way is from the 
city of Turkestan, by Persia ; and by that way are many days' 

* The Maure Sea seems to be the Northern Ocean, and the mountains of 
Chotaz are perhaps .the Ourals. 

A.D. 1322.] PEKSIA. 257 

journey by desert ; and the third way is from Comania, by 
the great sea, and by the kingdom of Abchaz. 

And you shall understand that all these kingdoms and 
lands above mentioned, unto Prussia and Russia, are all sub- 
ject to the great chan of Cathay, and many other countries 
that border on them. 

Chapter XXV. 


Now, since I have spoken of the lands and the kingdoms to- 
wards the north part, in coming down from the land of Cathay 
unto the lands of the Christians, towards Prussia and Russia, 
I will speak of other lands and kingdoms coming down 
towards the right side, unto the Sea of Greece, towards the land 
of the Christians. And since, after India and Cathay, the 
emperor of Persia is the greatest lord, I will tell you of the 
kingdom of Persia. He hath two kingdoms ; the first begins 
towards the east, towards the kingdom of Turkestan, and ex- 
tends towards the west to the river Pison, which is one 
of the four rivers that come out of Paradise. And on another 
side it extends toward the north to the Caspian Sea, and to- 
ward the south to the desert of India. And this country is 
good, and pleasant, and full of people, and contains many 
good cities. But the two principal cities are Boycurra and 
Seornergant, that some men call Sormagant*. The other 
kingdom of Persia extends towards the river Pison, and the 
parts of the west, to the kingdom of Media, and from the 
Great Armenia toward the north to the Caspian Sea, and 
towards the south to the land of India. That is also a good 
and rich land, and it hath three great principal cities, Messa- 
bor, Caphon, and Sarmassane. 

And then after is Armenia, in which were formerly four 
kingdoms ; it is a noble country, and full of goods. And it 
begins at Persia, and extends towards the west in length unto 
Turkey, and in breadth it extends to the city of Alexandriaf , 
that now is called the Gate of Hell, that 1 spoke of before, 
under the kingdom of Media. In this Armenia are many 
good cities, but Taurizo I is most of name. 

* These are, no doubt, Bokhara and Samarcaiid. 
f Iskendroon ] | Tabrfeez. 

258 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

After this is the kingdom of Media, which is very long, but 
not broad, beginning, towards the east, with the land of Persia, 
and India the Less ; and it extends towards the west to the 
kingdom of Chaldea, and towards the north towards Little Ar- 
menia. In that kingdom of Media are many great hills 
and little of level ground. Saracens dwell there, and another 
kind of people called Cordines-^. The two best cities of that 
kingdom are Sarras and Karemen. 

After that is the kingdom of Georgia, which commences to- 
wards the east, at the great mountain called Abzor, and con- 
tains many people of different nations. And men call the 
country Alamo. This kingdom extends towards Turkey, and 
towards the Great Sea ; and towards the south it borders on 
the Greater Armenia. And tiiere are two kingdoms in that 
country, the kingdom of Georgia and the kingdom of Abchaz ; 
and always in that country are two kings, both Christians ; 
but the king of Georgia is in subjection to the great chan. 
And the king of Abchaz has the stronger country, and he 
always vigorously defends his country against all who as- 
sail him, so that no man may reduce him to subjection. In 
that kingdom of Abchaz is a great marvel ; for a province of 
the country, that has well in circuit three days, w^hich they 
call Hanyson, is all covered with darkness, without any 
brightness or light, so that no man can see there, nor no 
man dare enter into it. And, nevertheless, they of the 
country say that sometimes men hear voices of people, and 
horses neighing, and cocks crowing; and men know well that 
men dwell there, but they know not what men. And they say 
that the darkness befell by miracle of God ; for a cursed em- 
peror of Persia, named Saures, pursued all the Christians to 
destroy them, and to compel them to make sacrifice to his 
idols, and rode with a great host, in all that ever he might, to 
confound the Christians. And then, in that country, dwelt 
many good Christians, who left their goods, and would have 
fled into Greece ; and when they were in a plain, called Me- 
gon, anon this cursed emperor met with them with his host, 
to have slain them and cut them to pieces. And the Christians 
kneeled to the ground, and made their prayers to God to suc- 
cour them; and anon a great thick cloud came, and covered 
the emperor and all his host : and so they remain in that 
manner, that they may go out on no side ; and so shall they 
* The KurdS; the Gordynse of the ancients. 


ever more abide in darkness till doomsday, by the miracles 
of God. And then the Christians went where they liked at 
their own pleasure, without hindrance of any creature. And 
you shall understand that out of that land of darkness issues 
a great river, that shows well there are people dwelling there, 
by many ready tokens ; but no man dare enter into it. 

And know well that in the kingdoms of Georgia, Abchaz, 
and the Little Armenia, are good and devout Christians ; for 
they shrive and housel-'^ themselves always once or twice in 
the week ; and many housel themselves every day. 

Also after, on this side, is Turkey, which borders on the 
Great Armenia. And there are many provinces, as Cappa- 
docia, Saure, Brique, Quesiton, Pytan, and Gemethe ; and in 
each of these are many good cities. This Turkey extends to 
the city of Sathala, that sitteth upon the Sea of Greece, and 
so it borders on Syria. Syria is a great and a good country, 
as I have told you before. And also it has, towards Upper 
India, the kingdom of Chaldea^ extending from the mountains 
of Chaldea towards the east to the city of Nineveh, on the river 
Tigris; in breadth it begins tow^ards the north, at the city of 
Maraga, and extends towards the south to the Sea of Ocean. 
Chaldea is a level country, with few hills and few rivers. 

After is the kingdom of Mesopotamia, which begins to- 
wards the east, at the river Tigris, at a city called Moselle f, 
and extends to^vards the west to the river Euphrates, to a city 
called Koianz ; and in length it extends from the mountain 
of Armenia to the desert of India the Less. This is a good 
and level country; but it has few rivers. There are but two 
mountains in that country, of which one is called Symar, the 
other Lyson. This land borders on the kingdom of Chaldea. 

There are also, towards the south parts, many countries and 
regions, as the land of Ethiopia, which borders tow^ards the east 
on the great deserts, towards the west on the kingdom of Nubia, 
towards the south on the kingdom of Mauritania, and towards 
the north on the Red Sea. After is Mauritania, which extends 
from the mountains of Ethiopia to Upper Lybia. And that 
country lies along from the Ocean Sea towards the south, and 
towards the north it borders on Nubia and Upper Lybia. The 
men of Nubia are Christians. And it extends from the lands 
above mentioned to the deserts of Egypt, of which I have 
spoken before. And after is Upper and Lower Lybia, which 
* Take the sacrament. f Mosul. 

S 2 


descends low down, towards the great sea of Spain, in which 
country are many kingdoms and different people. 

Chapter XXVT. 


In passing by the land of Cathay towards Upper India, and 
towards Bucharia, men pass by a kingdom called Caldilhe, 
which is a very fair country. And there grows a kind of fruit 
like gourds, which, when they are ripe, men cut in two, and 
find within a little beast, in flesh, bone, and blood, as though 
it were a little lamb, without wool. And men eat both the 
fruit and the beast, and that is a great marvel. Of that fruit 
I have eaten ; and I told them of as great a marvel to them 
that is amongst us, and that was of the barnacles. For I 
told them that in our country were trees that bear a fruit 
that becomes flying birds ; and those that fall in the water 
live ; and those that fall on the earth die anon ; and they 
are right good for man's meat. And thereof had they also 
great marvel, that some of them thought it was an impos- 
sibility. In that country are long apples, of good flavour, 
whereof there are more than a hundred in a cluster; and 
they have great long leaves and large, of two feet long or 
more. And in that country, and in other countries there- 
about, grow many trees that bear clove-gylofres and nutmegs, 
and great nuts of India, and of canelle, and many other 
spices. And there are vines which bear grapes so large, that 
a strong man would have enough to do to carry one cluster. 
In that same region are the mountains of Caspia, which are 
called Uber in the country. Between those mountains are 
inclosed the Jews of ten lineages, who are called Gog and 
Magog ; and they may not go out on any side. There were 
inclosed twenty-two kings with their people, that dwelt be- 
tween the mountains of Scythia. King Alexander drove 
them between those mountains, and there he thought to in- 
close them through work of his men. But when he saw that 
he might not do it, nor bring it to an end, he prayed to the 
God of Nature that he would perform that which he had be- 
gun. And although he was a Pagan, and not worthy to be 
heard, yet God of his grace closed the mountains together, so 

A.D. 1322.] GOG AND MAGOG. 261 

that they dwell there fast locked and inclosed with high 
mountains all ahout, except only on one side, and on that side 
is the Caspian Sea. Men say they shall come out in the time 
of Antichrist, and that they shall make great slaughter of the 
Christians ; and therefore all the Jews that dwell in all lands 
learn always to speak Hebrew, in hope that when the other 
Jews shall go out, that they may understand their speech, and 
so lead them into Christendom, to destroy the Christians. 
For the Jews say that they know well, by their prophecies, 
that they of Caspia shall go out, and spread through all the 
world, and that the Christians shall be under subjection as 
long as they have been in subjection to them. And if you 
will know how they shall find their way, after what I have 
heard say I will tell you. In the time of Antichrist, a fox 
shall make there his trail, and burrow a hole where king 
Alexander made the gates ; and so long he shall burrow and 
pierce the earth, till he shall pass through, towards that peo- 
ple. And when they see the fox, they shall have great won- 
der of him, because they never saw such a beast ; for of all 
other beasts they have some inclosed among them, except 
the fox. And then they shall hunt him, and pursue him so 
close, till he arrive at the same place he came from ; and then 
they shall dig and burrow so strongly, till they find the gates 
that king Alexander made of immense stones, well cemented 
and made strong for the mastery ; and those gates they shall 
break, and so go out, by finding that issue. 

From that land men go towards the land of Bucharia, 
where are very evil and cruel people. In that land are trees 
that bear wool*, as though it were of sheep, whereof men 
make clothes, and all things that may be made of wool. In 
that country are many ipotaynes, that dwell sometimes in 
the water and sometimes on the land ; and they are half man 
and half horse, as I have said before; and they eat men, 
when they may take them. And there are rivers of water 
that are very bitter, three times more than is the water of 
the sea. In that country are many grifiins, more abundant 
than in any other country. Some men say that they have the 
body upward of an eagle, and beneath of a lion ; and that 
is true. But one griffin has a greater body and is stronger 
than eight lions, and greater and stronger than a hundred 
eagles. For one griffin there will carry, flying to his nest, a 
* Cotton. 


great horse, or two oxen yoked together as they go at the 
plough. For he has his talons so long, and so large and 
great, as though they were horns of great oxen, or of bulls, or 
of kine, so that men make cups of them to drink out of* ; and 
of their ribs, and of the feathers of their wings, men make 
bows full strong, to shoot with arrows and darts. From thence 
men go, by many days, through the land of Prester John, the 
great emperor of India. And they call his kingdom the isle 
of Pentexoire. 

Chapter XXVII. 


This emperor, Pi'ester Johnf, possesses very extensive terri- 
tory, and has many very noble cities and good towns in his 
realm, and many great and large isles. For all the country 
of India is divided into isles, by the great floods that come 
from Paradise, that separate all the land into many parts. 
And also in the sea he has full many isles. And the best city 
in the isle of Pentexoire is Nyse, a very royal city, noble and 
very rich. This trester John has under him many kings, and 

* The editor of the edition of our author, printed in 1727, observes, 
that one four feet long, in the Cotton Library, had a silver hoop about the 
end, on which is engraved, Griphi unguis, divo Cuthherto Dunelmensi sacer. 
Another, about an ell long, is mentioned by Dr. Grew, in his History of the 
Rarities of the Royal Society, page 26 ; though the doctor there supposes it 
rather the horn of a rock-buck, or of the ibex mas. 

t Un-khan, or, as he was popularly called, Prester John, and the marvels 
of his dominions, were for several centuries a subject of great interest to the 
people of Western Europe, and were an object of anxious inquiry to all 
travellers in the East. A pretended letter from this monarch to the pope, 
describing his dominions, was published in Latin, French, and other lan- 
guages. Much information relating to Prester John is found in Matthew 
Paris, who wrote before the middle of the thirteenth century. Marco Polo 
in his travels (book i. ch. xliii.) mentions the former subjection of tho 
Tartars to him. Roger Bacon did not believe the extraordinary tales which 
were current relative to Prester John — de quo tanta farna solebat esse, et 
multa Jalsa dicta sunt et scripta. (Opus Majus, edit. Jebb, p. 232.) A 
most profound and learned dissertation on the personage and history of 
Prester John, by M. D'Avezac, will be found in the Introduction to his 
edition of the History of the Tartars, by John du Plan-de- Carpi n, (pub- 
lished in the transactions of the Greographical Society of Paris,) 4to, 1838, 
p. 165-168. 

A.D. 1322.] KOCKS OF LOADSTONE. 263 

many isles, and many divers people of divers conditions. And 
this land is full good and rich, but not so rich as the land of the 
great chan. For the merchants come not thither so commonly 
to buy merchandise, as they do in the land of the great chan, 
for it is too far. And on the other side, in the isle of Cathay, 
men find all things needful to man, cloths of gold, of silk, 
and spicery. And therefore, although men have them cheap 
in the isle of Prester John, they dread the long way and the 
great perils in the sea. For in many places of the sea are 
great rocks of stone of adamant (loadstone), which of its 
nature draws iron to it; and therefore there pass no ships 
that have either bonds or nails of iron in them ; and if they 
do, anon the rocks of adamant draw them to them, that 
they may never go thence. I myself have seen afar in that 
sea, as though it had been a great isle full of trees and 
bushes, full of thorns and briers, in great plenty; and the 
shipmen told us that all that was of ships that were drawn 
thither by the adamants, for the iron that was in them. And 
of the rottenness and other things that were within the ships, 
grew such bushes, and thorns, and briers, and green grass, 
and such kinds of things; and of the masts and the sail- 
yards, it seemed a great wood or a grove. And such rocks 
are in many places there about. And therefore merchants 
dare not pass there, except they know well the passages, or 
unless they have good pilots. And also they dread the long 
way, and, therefore, they go to Cathay, because it is nearer ; 
and yet it is not so nigh but men must travel by sea and 
land eleven or twelve months, from Genoa or from Venice, to 
Cathay. And yet is the land of Prester John more far, by 
many dreadful days' journey. And the merchants pass by 
the kingdom of Persia, and go to a city called Hermes ^-s^, be- 
cause Hermes the philosopher founded it. And after that 
they pass an arm of the sea, and then they go to another city 
called Golbache; and there they find merchandise, and as 
great abundance of parrots as men find here of geese. In 
that country is but little wheat or barley, and therefore they 
eat rice and honey, milk, cheese, and fruit. 

This emperor, Prester John, takes always to wife the 
daughter of the great chan ; and the great chan also in the 

* Onnuz. — The derivation is droll enough. 


same wise the daughter of Prester John. For they two are 
the greatest lords under the firmament. 

In the land of Prester John are many divers things and 
many precious stones, so great and so large, that men make 
of them plates, dishes, cups, &c. And many other marvels 
are there, that it were too long to put in a book. But I will 
tell you of his principal isles, and of his estate, and of his 
law. This emperor Prester John is a Christian, and a great 
part of his country also ; hut they have not all the articles 
of our faith. They believe in the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, and they are very devout and true to one another. And 
he has under him seventy-two provinces, and in every province 
is a king, all which kings are tributary to Prester John. And 
in his lordships are many great marvels, for in his country 
is the sea called the Gravelly Sea, which is all gravel and 
sand, without a drop of water ; and it ebbs and flows in great 
waves, as other seas do, and it is never still. And no man 
can pass that sea with ships, and, therefore, no man knows 
what land is beyond that sea. And although it has no water, 
men find therein, and on the banks, very good fish, of difierent 
nature and shape from what is found in any other sea ; and 
they are of very good taste, and delicious to eat. 

Three days from that sea are great mountains, out of which 
runs a great river which comes from Paradise, and it is full 
of precious stones, without a drop of water, and it runs through 
the desert, on one side, so that it makes the Gravelly Sea 
where it ends. And that river runs only three days in the 
week, and brings with it great stones and the rocks also there- 
with, and that in great plenty. And when they are entered 
into the Gravelly Sea they are seen no more. And in those 
three days that that river runneth, no man dare enter into it, 
but in the other days men dare enter well enough. Beyond 
that river, more up towards the deserts, is a great plain all 
gravelly between the mountains ; and in that plain, every day 
at sun-rise, small trees begin to grow, and they grow till mid- 
day, bearing fruit ; but no man dare take of that fruit, for it 
is a thing of fairie. And after mid-day they decrease and 
enter again into the earth, so that at sun-set they appear no 
more; and so they do every day. 

In that desert are many wild men, hideous to look on, and 
horned ; and they speak nought, but grunt like pigs And 

A.D. 1322.] PRESTER JOHN. 265 

there is also great plenty of wild dogs. And there are many 
parrots, which speak of their own nature, and salute men that 
go through the deserts, and speak to them as plainly as 
though it were a man. And they that speak well have a 
large tongue, and have five toes upon each foot. And there 
are also others which have but three toes upon each foot, and 
they speak but little. 

This emperor Pre«ter John, when he goes to battle against 
any other lord, has no banners borne before him ; but he has 
three large crosses of gold full of precious stones ; and each 
cross is set in a chariot full richly arrayed. And to keep 
each cross are appointed ten thousand men of arms, and more 
than one hundred thousand footmen. And this number of 
people is independent of the chief army. And when he has 
no war, but rides with a private company, he has before him 
but one plain cross of wood, in remembrance that Jesus 
Christ suffered death upon a wooden cross. x\nd they carry 
before him also a platter of gold full of earth, in token that 
his nobleness, and his might, and his flesh, shall turn to 
earth. And he has borne before him also a vessel of silver, 
full of noble jewels of gold and precious stones, in token of 
his lordship, nobility, and power. He dwells commonly in 
the city of Susa, and there is his principal palace, which is so 
rich and noble that no man can conceive it without seeing it. 
And above the chief tower of the palace are two round pommels 
of gold, in each of which are two large carbuncles, which 
shine bright in the night. And the principal gates of his 
palace are of the precious stones called sardonix; and the 
border and bars are of ivory ; and the windows of the halls 
and chambers are of crystal ; and the tables, on which men 
eat, some are of emeralds, some of amethyst, and some of 
gold, full of precious stones; and the pillars that support 
the tables are of the same precious stones. Of the steps ap- 
proaching his throne, where he sits at meat, one is of onyx, 
another crystal, another green jasper, another amethyst, an- 
other sardonix, another cornelian, and the seventh, on which 
he sets his feet, is of crysolite. All these steps are bordered 
with fine gold, with the other precious stones, set with great 
orient pearls. The sides of the seat of his throne are of 
emeralds, and bordered full nobly vdth gold, and dubbed with 
other precious stones and great pearls. All the pillars in his- 
chamber are of fine gold with precious stones, and with many 

266 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

carbuncles, which give great light by night to all people. And 
although the carbuncle gives light enough, nevertheless at all 
times a vessel of crystal, full of balm, is burning, to give 
good smell and odour to the emperor, and to expel all wicked 
airs and corruptions. The frame of his bed is of fine sapphires 
blended with gold, to make him sleep well, and to refrain him 
from lechery. For he w^ll not lie with his wives but four 
times in the year, after the four seasons. ^He hath also a very 
fair and noble palace in the city of Nice, where he dwells when 
he likes ; but the air is not so temperate as it is at the city of 
Susa. And you shall understand that in his country, and in 
the countries surrounding, men eat but once in the day, as 
they do in the court of the great chan. And more than 
thirty thousand persons eat every day in his court, besides 
goers and comers, but these thirty thousand persons spend 
not so much as twelve thousand of our country. This em- 
peror Prester John has evermore seven kings with him, to 
serve him, who share their service by certain months ; and 
with these kings serve always seventy-two dukes and three 
hundred and sixty earls. And all the days of the year, 
twelve archbishops and twenty bishops eat in his household 
and in his court. And the patriarch of St. Thomas is there 
what the pope is here. And the archbishops, and the bishops, 
and the abbots in that country, are all kings. And each of 
these great lords know^s well the attendance of his service. 
One is master of his household, another is his chamber- 
lain, another serveth him with a dish, another with a cup, 
another is steward, another is marshal, another is prince of 
his arms ; and thus is he full nobly and royally served. And 
his land extends in extreme breadth four months' journey, 
and in length out of measure, including all the isles under 
earth, that we suppose to be under us. 

Near the isle of Pentexoire, which is the land of Prester 
John, is a great isle, long and broad, called Milsterak, which 
is in the lordship of Prester John. That isle is very rich. 
There was dwelling not long since a rich man, named Gatho- 
lonabes, who was full of tricks and subtle deceits. He had 
a fair and strong castle in a mountain, so strong and noble 
that no man could devise a fairer or a stronger. And he 
had caused the mountain to be all walled about with a strong 
and fair wall, within which walls he had the fairest garden 
that might be imagined ; and therein were trees bearing all 

A.D. 1322.] THE FALSE PARADISE. 267 

manner of fruits, all kinds of herbs of virtue and of good 
smell, and all other herbs also that bear fair flowers. And 
he had also in that garden many fair wells, and by them he 
had made fair halls and fair chambers, painted all with gold 
and azure, representing many divers things and many divers 
stories. There were also beasts and birds w^hich sung full 
delectably, and moved by craft, that it seemed that they were 
alive. And he had also in his garden all kinds of birds and 
beasts, that men might have play or sport to behold them. 
And he had also in that place the fairest damsels that might 
be found under the age of fifteen years, and the fairest young 
striplings that men might get of that same age; and they 
were all clothed full richly in clothes of gold ; and he said 
they were angels. And he had also caused to be made three fair 
and noble wells, all surrounded with stone of jasper and crystal, 
diapered with gold, and set with precious stones and great 
orient pearls. And he had made a conduit under the earth, 
so that the three wells, at his will, should run one with milk, 
another with wine, and another with honey. And that place he 
called Paradise. And when any good knight, who was hardy 
and noble, came to see this royalty, he would lead him into 
Paradise, and show him these wonderful things, for his sport, 
and the marvellous and delicious song of divers birds, and 
the fair damsels, and the fair wells of milk, wine, and honey, 
running plentifully. There he would let divers instruments 
of music sound in a high tower, so merrily that it was joy to 
hear, and no man should see the craft thereof; and those he 
said were angels of God, and that place was Paradise, that 
God had promised to his friends, saying " I will give you a 
land flowing with milk and honey." And then he would 
make them drink of certain drink, whereof anon they should 
be drunk ; after which they seemed to have greater delight 
than they had before. And then would he say to them, that 
if they would die for him and for his love, after their death 
they should come to his paradise ; and they should be of the 
age of the damsels, and they should play with them and yet they 
would remain maidens. And after that he w^ould put them in a 
fairer paradise, where they should see the God of Nature visibly, 
in his majesty and bliss. And then would he show them his 
intent, and tell them, if they would go and slay such a lord or 
such a man who was his enemy, or disobedient to his will, they 
should not fear to do it, or to be slain themselves in doing it ; 

268 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

for after their death he would put them into another paradise 
that was a hundred fold fairer than any of the others ; and 
there should they dwell with the fairest damsels that might 
he, and play with them evermore. And thus went many 
divers lusty bachelors to slay great lords in divers countries, 
that were his enemies, in hopes to have that paradise. And 
thus he was often revenged of his enemies by his subtle 
deceits and false tricks. But when the worthy men of the 
country had perceived this subtle falsehood of this Gatho- 
lonabes, they assembled with force, and assailed his castle, and 
slew him, and destroyed all the fair places of that paradise. 
The place of the wells and of the walls and of many other 
things are yet clearly to be seen, but the riches are clean 
gone. And it is not long ago since that place was destroyed. 

Chapter XXVIII. 


Near that isle of Mistorak, upon the left side, nigh to the 
river of Pison, is a marvellous thing. There is a vale be- 
tween the mountains which extends nearly four miles ; and 
some call it the Enchanted Vale, some call it the Vale of 
Devils, and some the Perilous Vale. In that vale men hear 
oftentimes great tempests and thunders, and great murmurs 
and noises, day and night; and great noise, as it were, of 
tabors, and nakeres, and trumpets, as though it were of a great 
feast. This vale is all full of devils, and has been always ; 
and men say there that it is one of the entrances of hell. 
In that vale is great plenty of gold and silver ; wherefore many 
misbelieving men, and many Christians also, oftentimes go in, 
to have of the treasure ; but few return, especially of the mis- 
believing men, for they are anon strangled by the devils. 
And in the centre of that vale, under a rock, is a head and 
the visage of a devil bodily, full horrible and dreadful to 
see, and it shows but the head to the shoulders. But there 
is no man in the world so bold. Christian or other, but 
he would be in dread to behold it, and he would feel almost 
dead with fear, so hideous is it to behold. For he looks 
at every man so sharply with dreadful eyes, that are ever 
moving and sparkling like fire, and changes and stirs so often 


in divers manners, with so horrible a countenance, that no 
man dare approach towards him. And from him issues smoke, 
and stink, and fire, and so much abomination that scarce any 
man may endure there. But the good Christians, that are 
stable in their faith, enter without peril ; for they will first 
shrive them, and mark them with the sign of the holy cross, 
so that the fiends have no power over them. But although 
they are without peril, yet they are not without dread when 
they see the devils visibly and bodily all about them, that 
make full many divers assaults and menaces, in air and on 
earth, and terrify them with strokes of thunder blasts and of 
tempests. And the greatest fear is that God will take ven- 
geance then of that which men have misdone against his will. 
And you shall understand that when my fellows and I were 
in this vale, we were in great thought whether we durst put 
our bodies in aventure, to go in or not, in the protection of 
God ; and some of our fellows agreed to enter, and some not. 
So there were with us two worthy men, friars minors of 
Lombardy, who said that if any man would enter they would 
go in with us ; and when they had said so, upon the gracious 
trust of God and of them, we heard mass, and every man was 
shriven and housled ; and then we entered, fourteen persons, 
but at our going out we were but nine. And so we never 
knew whether our fellows were lost, or had turned back for 
fear ; but we never saw them after. They were two men of 
Greece, and three of Spain. And our other fellows, that 
would not go in with us, went by another road to be before 
us; and so they w^ere. And thus we passed that Perilous 
Vale, and found therein gold and silver, and precious stones, 
and rich jewels, in great plenty, both here and there, as it 
seemed ; but whether it was as it seemed I know not, for I 
touched none; because the devils are so subtle to make a 
thing to seem otherwise than it is, to deceive mankind ; and 
therefore I touched none ; and also because that I would not 
be put out of my devotion, for I was more devout then than 
ever I was before or after, and all for the dread of fiends that 
I saw in divers figures ; and also for the great multitude of 
dead bodies that I saw there lying by the way, in all the vale, 
as though there had been a battle between two kings, and the 
mightiest of the country, and that the greater party had been 
discomfited and slain. And I believe that hardly should any 
country have so many people in it as lay slain in that vale. 

270 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1322. 

as it seemed to us, which was a hideous sight to see. And I 
marvelled much that there were so many, and the bodies all 
whole, without rotting; but 1 believe that fiends made them 
seem to be so fresh, without rotting. And many of them were 
in habits of Christian men ; but I believe they were such as 
went in for covetousness of the treasure that was there, 
and had overmuch feebleness in faith ; so that their hearts 
might not endure in the belief for dread. And therefore we 
were the more devout a great deal ; and 3^0 1 we were cast 
down and beaten down many times to the hard earth by 
winds, and thunders, and tempests ; but evermore Ged of his 
grace helped us. And so we passed that perilous vale without 
peril and without encumbrance, thanked be almighty God ! 

After this, beyond the vale, is a great isle, the inhabitants 
of which are great giants of twenty-eight or thirty feet long, 
with no clothing but skins of beasts, that they hang upon 
them ; and they eat nothing but raw flesh, and drink milk of 
beasts. They have no houses to lie in. And they eat more 
gladly man's flesh than any other flesh. Into that isle dare 
no man enter ; and if they see a ship, and men therein, anon 
they enter into the sea to take them. And men told us that 
in an isle beyond that were giants of greater stature, some of 
forty-five or fifty feet long, and even, as some men say, of fifty 
cubits long ; but I saw none of those, for I had no lust to go 
to those parts, because that no man comes either into that 
isle or into the other but he will be devoured anon. And 
among those giants are sheep as great as oxen here, which 
bear great rough wool. Of the sheep I have seen many times. 
And men have said many times those giants take men, in the 
sea, out of their ships, and bring them to land, two in one 
hand and two in the other, eating them going, all raw and 
alive. In another isle, towards the north, in the Sea of Ocean, 
are very evil women, who have precious stones in their eyes ; 
and if they behold any man with wrath, they slay him with the 
look. In another isle, which is fair and great, and full of 
people, the custom is, that the first night that they are mar- 
ried they make another man to lie by their wives, to have 
their maidenhead, for which they give great hire and much 
thanks. And there are certain men in every town that serve 
for no other thing ; and they call them cadeberiz, that is to 
say, the fools of despair, because they believe their occupation 
is a dangerous one. After that is another isle, where women 


make great sorrow when their children are born ; and when 
they die, they make great feasts, and great joy and revel, and 
then they cast them into a great burning fire. And those that 
love well their husbands, if their husbands die, they cast 
themselves also into the fire, with their children, and burn 
them. In that isle they make their king always by election ; 
and they choose him not for nobleness or riches, but such a 
one as is of good manners and condition, and therewithal just; 
and also that he be of great age, and that he have no children. 

In that isle men are very just, and they do just judgments 
in every cause, both of rich and poor, small and great, ac- 
cording to their trespasses. And the king may not judge a 
man to death without assent of his barons and other wise men 
of council, and unless all the court agree thereto. And if the 
king himself do any homicide or crime, as to slay a man, or 
any such- case, he shall die for it; but he shall not be slain 
as another man ; but they forbid, on pain of death, that any 
man be so bold as to make him company or to speak with 
him, or give or sell him meat or drink ; and so shall he die 
disgracefully. They spare no man that has trespassed, either 
for love, or favour, or riches, or nobility; but that he shall 
have according to what he has done. 

Beyond that isle is another, where is a great multitude of 
people, who will not eat flesh of hares, hens, or giese ; and 
yet they breed them in abundance, to see and behold them 
only ; but they eat flesh of all other beasts, and drink milk. 
In that country they take their daughters and their sisters to 
wife, and their other kinswomen. And if there be ten or 
twelve men, or more, dwelling in a house, the wife of each of 
them shall be common to them all that dwell in that house ; 
so that every man may lie with whom he will of them on one 
night, and with another another night. And if she have any 
child, she may give it to what man she list that has kept com- 
pany with her; so that no man knows there whether the 
child be his or another's. And if any man say to them that 
they nourish other men's children, they answer that so do 
other men theirs. In that countiy, and in all India, are great 
plenty of cockodrills, a sort of long serpent, as I have said 
before ; and in the night they dwell in the water, and in the 
day upon the land, in rocks and caves ; and they eat no meat 
in winter, but lie as in a dream, as do serpents. These ser- 
pents slay men, and they eat them weeping ; and when they 


eat, they move the upper jaw, and not the lower jaw; and 
they have no tongue^ In that country, and in many others 
beyond, and also in many on this side, men sow the seed 
of cotton ; and they sow it every year, and then it grows to 
small trees, which bear cotton. And so do men every year, 
so that there is plenty of cotton at all times. In this isle 
also, and in many others, there is a manner of wood, hard and 
strong ; and whoever covers the coals of that wood under the 
ashes thereof, the coals will remain alive a year or more. And 
among other trees there are nut trees, that bear nuts as great 
as a man's head ^^. There are also animals called orafles, which 
are called, in Arabia, gerfauntz. They are spotted, and a 
little higher than a horse, with a neck twenty cubits long; 
and the croup and tail are like those of a hart ; and one of 
them may look over a high house f . And there are also in that 
country many cameleons ; and there are very great serpents, 
some one hundred and twenty feet long, of divers colours, as 
rayed, red, green and yellow, blue and black, and all speckled. 
And there are others that have crests upon their heads ; and 
they go upon their feet upright. And there are also wild 
swine of many colours, as great as oxen in our country, all 
spotted like young fawns. And there are also hedgehogs, as 
great as wild swine, which we call porcupines. And there are 
many othfer extraordinary animals. 

Chapter XXIX. 


And beyond that isle is another isle, great and rich, where are 
good and true people, and of good living after their belief, and 
of good faith. And although they are not christened, yet by 
natural law they are full of all virtue, and eschew all vices ; 
for they are not proud, nor covetous, nor envious, nor wrathful, 
nor gluttonous, nor lecherous ; nor do they to any man otherwise 
than they would that other men did to them; and in this 
point they fulfil the ten commandments of God. And they 
care not for possessions or riches; and they lie not, nor do 
they swear, but say simply yea and nay ; for they say he that 
sweareth will deceive his neighbour; and therefore all that 

* Probably cocoa-nuts. 

f This is apparently the giraffe. 

A.D. 1322.] THE ISLE OF BBAGMAN. 273 

they do, they do it without oath. And that isle is called the 
isle of Bragman, and some men call it the Land of Faith ; and 
through it runs a great river called Thebe. And in general 
all the men of those isles, and of all the borders thereabout, 
are truer than in any other country thereabout, and more just 
than others in all things. In that isle is no thief, no mur- 
derer, no common woman, no poor beggar, and no man was 
ever slain in that country. And they be as chaste, and lead 
as good a life, as though they were monks ; and they fast all 
days. And because they are so true, and so just, and so full 
of all good conditions, they are never grieved with tem- 
pests, nor with thunder and lightning, nor with hail, nor with 
pestilence, nor with war, nor with famine, nor with any other 
tribulation, as we are many times amongst us for our sins ; 
wherefore it appears evident that God loveth them for their 
good deeds. They believe well in God that made all things, 
and worship him ; and they prize no earthly riches ; and they 
live full orderly, and so soberly in meat and drink, that they 
live right long. And the most part of them die without sick- 
ness, when nature faileth them for old age. And it befell, in 
king Alexander's time, that he purposed to conquer that isle ; 
but when they of the country heard it, they sent messengers 
to him with letters, that said thus : — " What may we be now 
to that man to whom all the world is insufficient? Thou 
shalt find nothing in us to cause thee to war against us ; for 
we have no riches, nor do we desire any ; and all the goods of 
our country are in common. Our meat, with which we sustain 
our bodies, is our riches ; and instead of treasure of gold and 
silver, we make our treasure of acorns and peas, and to love 
one another. And to apparel our bodies we use a simple cloth 
to wrap our carcase. Our wives are not arrayed to make 
any man pleased. When men labour to array the body, to 
make it seem fairer than God made it, they do great sin ; for 
man should not devise nor ask greater beauty than God hath 
ordained him to have at his birth. The earth ministeretb to 
us two things ; our livelihood, that cometh of the earth that 
we live by, and our sepulchre after our death. We have been 
in perpetual peace till now that thou art come to disinherit 
us ; and also we have a king, not to do justice to every man, for 
he shall find no forfeit among us ; but to keep nobleness, and 
to show that we are obedient, we have a king. For justice 
has among us no place ; for we do to no man otherwise than 


274 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. 1332. 

we desire that men do to us, so that righteousness or ven- 
geance have nought to do among us; so that thou mayest 
take nothing from us but our good peace, that always hath 
endured among us." And when king Alexander had read 
these letters, he thought that he should do great sin to trouble 

There is another isle called Oxidrate, and another called 
Gymnosophe, where there are also good people, and full of good 
faith ; and they hold, for the most part, the same good condi- 
tions and customs, and good manners, as men of the country 
above mentioned ; but they all go naked. Into that isle entered 
king Alexander, to see the customs ; and when he saw their 
great faith, and the truth that was amongst them, he said 
that he would not grieve them, and bade them ask of him 
what they would have of him, riches or any thing else, ^nd 
they should have it with good will. And they answered that 
he w^as rich enough that had meat and drink to sustain the 
body with ; for the riches of this world, that is transitory, are 
of no worth ; but if it were in his power to make them im- 
mortal, thereof would they pray him, and thank him. And 
Alexander answered them that it was not in his power to do 
it, because he was mortal, as they were. And then they asked 
him why he was so proud, and so fierce, and so busy, to put all 
the world under his subjection, " right as thou wert a God, 
and hast no term of this life, neither day nor hour; and 
covetest to have all the world at thy command, that shall 
leave thee without fail, or thou leave it. And right as it hath 
been to other men before thee, right so it shall be to others 
after thee, and from hence shalt thou carry nothing ; but as 
thou wert born naked, right so all naked shall thy body be 
turned into earth, that thou wert made of. Wherefore thou 
shouldst think, and impress it on thy mind, that nothing is 
immortal but only God, that made all things." By which 
answer Alexander was greatly astonished and abashed, and all 
confused departed from them. 

Many other isles ^'^ there are in the land of Prester John, 
and many great marvels, that were too long to tell, both of 
his riches and of his nobleness, and of the great plenty also 
of precious stones that he has. I think that you know well 
now, and have heard say, why this emperor is called Prester 

* I have omitted some paragraphs preceding this, which are mere repro- 
ductions of the wonderful ethnographic stories of Pliny and Soiinus. 

A.D. 1322.] PRESTER JOHN. 275 

John. There was some time an emperor there, who was a 
worthy and a full noble prince, that had Christian knights in 
his company, as he has that now is. So it befell that he had 
great desire to see the service in the church among Chris- 
tians ; and then Christendom extended beyond the sea, includ- 
ing all Turkey, Syria, Tartary, Jerusalem, Palestine, Arabia, 
Aleppo, and all the land of Egypt. So it befell that this em- 
peror came, with a Christian knight with him, into a church 
in Egypt; and it was the Saturday in Whitsuntide. And 
the bishop was conferring orders ; and he beheld and listened 
to the service full attentively; and he asked the Christian 
knight what men of degree they should be that the prelate 
had before him ; and the knight answered and said that they 
were priests. And then the emperor said that he would no 
longer be called king nor emperor, but priest ; and that he 
would have the name of the first priest that went out of the 
church ; and his name was John. And so, evermore since, 
he is called Prester John. 



Towards the east of Prester John's land is a good and great isle 
called Taprobane, and it is very fruiitful ; and the Idng thereof is 
rich, and is under the obeisance of Prester John. And there 
they always make their king by election. In that isle are two 
summers and two winters ; and men harvest the corn twice a 
year ; and in all seasons of the year the gardens are in flower. 
There dwell good people, and reasonable ; and many Christian 
men among them, who are so rich that they know not what to 
do with their goods. Of old time, when men passed from the 
land of Prester John unto that isle, men made ordinance to 
pass by ship in twenty- three days or more ; but now men pass 
by ship in seven days. And men may see the bottom of the 
sea in many places ; for it is not very deep. 

Beside that isle, towards the east, are two other isles, one 
called Grille, the other Argyte, of which all the land is mines 
of gold and silver. And those isles are just where the 
Ked Sea separates from the Ocean Sea. And in those isles 
men see no stars so clearly as in other places ; for there 
appears only one clear star called Canopus. And there the 

T 2 


moon is not seen in all the lunation, except in the second 
quarter. In the isle, also, of this Taprobane are great hills of 
gold, that ants keep full diligently^. 

And beyond the land, and isles, and deserts of Prester 
John's lordship, in going straight towards the east, men find 
nothing but mountains and great rocks ; and there is the dark 
region, where no man may see, neither by day nor night, as 
they of the country say. And that desert, and that place of 
darkness, lasts from this coast unto Terrestrial Paradise, 
where Adam, our first father, and Eve were put, who dwelt 
there but a little while ; and that is towards the east, at the 
beginning of the earth. But this is not that east that we call 
our east, on this half, where the sun rises to us ; for when the 
sun is east in those parts towards Terrestrial Paradise, it is 
then midnight in our parts on this half, on account of the round- 
ness of the earth, of which I have told you before ; for our Lord 
God made the earth all round, in the middle of the firma- 
ment. And there have mountains and hills been, and val- 
leys, which arose only from Noah's flood, that wasted the soft 
and tender ground, and fell down into valleys ; and the hard 
earth and the rock remain mountains, when the soft and ten- 
der earth was worn away by the water, and fell, and became 

Of Paradise I cannot speak properly, for I was not there. 
It is far beyond ; and I repent not going there, but I was not 
worthy. But as I have heard say of wise men beyond, I 
shall tell you with good will. Terrestrial Paradise, as wise 
men say, is the highest place of the earth ; and it is so high 
that it nearly touches the circle of the moon there, as the 
moon makes her turn. For it is so high that the flood 
of Noah might not come to it, that would have covered all 
the earth of the world all about, and above and beneath, 
except Paradise. And this Paradise is inclosed all about 
with a wall, and men know not whereof it is ; for the wall 
is covered all over with moss, as it seems ; and it seems 
not that the wall is natural stone. And that wall stretches 
from the south to the north ; and it has but one entry, which 
is closed with burning fire, so that no man that is mortal dare 
enter. And in the highest place of Paradise, exactly in the 
middle, is a well that casts out the four streams, which run by 

* Here follows the story of the ants that keep the gold, taken from Pliny, 
Hist. Nat. xi. 31, and found in other ancient writers. 

A.D. 1322.] THE WAY TO PAKADISE. 277 

divers lands, of whicli the first is called Pison, or Ganges, that 
runs throughout India, or Emlak, in which river are many 
precious stones, and much lignum aloes, and much sand of gold. 
And the other river is called Nile, or Gyson, which goes through 
Ethiopia, and after through Egypt. And the other is called 
Tigris, which runs by Assyria, and by Armenia the Great. 
And the other is called Euphrates, which runs through 
Media, Armenia, and Persia. And men there beyond say 
that all the sweet waters of the world, ahove and beneath, 
take their beginning from the well of Paradise ; and out of 
that well all waters come and go. The first river is called 
Pison, that is, in our language, Assembly; for many other 
rivers meet there, and go into that river. And some call it 
Ganges, from an Indian king, called Gangeres, because it ran 
through his land. And its water is in some places clear, 
and in some places troubled ; in some places hot, and in some 
places cold. The second river is called Nile, or Gyson, for it 
is always troubled ; and Gyson, in the language of Ethiopia, 
is to say Trouble, and in the language of Egypt also. The 
third river, called Tigris, is as much as to say. Fast Running ; 
for it runs faster than any of the others. The fourth river 
is called Euphrates, that is to say. Well Bearing ; for there grow 
upon that river corn, fruit, and other goods, in great plenty. 

And you shall understand that no man that is mortal may 
approach to that Paradise ; for by land no man may go for 
wild beasts, that are in the deserts, and for the high moun- 
tains, and great huge rocks, that no man may pass by for the 
dark places that are there ; and by the rivers may no man 
go, for the water runs so roughly and so sharply, because it 
€omes down so outrageously from the high places above, that 
it runs in so great waves that no ship may row or sail against 
it : and the water roars so, and makes so huge a noise, and so 
great a tempest, that no man may hear another in the ship, 
though he cried with all the might he could. Many great 
lords have assayed with great will, many times, to pass by 
those rivers towards Paradise, with full great companies ; but 
they might not speed in their voyage; and many died for 
weariness of rowing against the strong waves ; and many of 
them became blind, and many deaf, for the noise of the water ; 
and some perished and were lost in the waves ; so that no 
mortal man may approach to that place without special grace 
of God ; so that of that place I can tell you no more. 


Chapter XXXT. 


From those isles that I have spoken of before, in the land of 
Prester John, that are under earth as to us, and of other isles 
that are further beyond, whoever will pursue them may come 
again right to the parts that he came from, and so environ all 
the earth ; but what for the isles, what for the sea, and what 
for strong rowing, few people assay to pass that passage. x\nd 
therefore men return from the isles beforesaid by other isles, 
coasting, from the land of Prester John. And then come men, 
in returning, to an isle called Casson, which is full sixty days 
in length, and more than fifty in breadth. This is the best 
isle, and the best kingdom, that is in all those parts, except 
Cathay ; and if the merchants used that country as much as 
they do Cathay, it would be better than Cathay in a short 
time. This country is well inhabited, and so full of cities 
and good towns, and inhabited with people, that when a man 
goes out of one city he sees another city before him. In that 
isle is great plenty of all goods to live with, and of all manner 
of spices ; and there are great forests of chestnuts. The king 
of that isle is very rich and mighty ; and yet he holds his land 
of the great chan, and is subject to him; for it is one of the 
twelve provinces which the great chan has under him, besides 
his own land, and other less isles, of which he has many. 

From that kingdom come men, in returning, to another 
isle, called Rybothe, which, also, is under the great chan. 
It is a full good country, and rich in all goods, and wine 
and fruit, and all other riches. And the people of that country 
have no houses ; but they dwell and lie all under tents made 
of black fern. And the principal city, and the most royal, is 
all walled with black and white stone; and all the streets, 
also, are paved with the same stones. In that city is no man 
so hardy as to shed blood of any man, nor of any beast, for 
the reverence of an idol that is worshipped there. And in 
that isle dwells the pope of their law, whom they call lobassy. 
This lobassy gives all the benefices, and other dignities, and 
all other things that belong to the idol. In that isle they 
have a custom, in all the country, that when any man's father 
is dead, and the son wishes to do great honour to his father. 


he sends to all his friends, and to all his kin, and for religious 
men and priests, and for minstrels also, in great plenty ; and 
then they bear the dead body unto a great hill, with great 
joy and solemnity; and when they have brought it thither, 
the chief prelate smites off the head, and lays it upon a great 
platter of gold and silver, if he be a rich man ; and then he 
gives the head to the son ; and then the son and his other kin 
sing and say many prayers ; and then the priests, and the 
religious men, smite all the body of the dead man in pieces ; 
and then they say certain prayers. And the birds of prey of 
all the country about know the custom for a long time before, 
and come flying above in the air, as eagles, kites, ravens, 
and other birds that eat flesh. And then the priests cast the 
bits of flesh, and each fowl takes what he may, and goes 
a little thence and eats it ; and they do so wMst any piece 
of the dead body remains. And after that the priests sing with 
high voice, in their language, " Behold how worthy a man, and 
how good a man this was, that the angels of God came to seek 
him, and to bring him into Paradise." And then it seems to 
the son that he is highly worshipped when many birds, and 
fowls, and ravens, come and eat his father ; and he that has 
most number of fowls is most worshipped. • Then the son 
brings home with him all his kin, and his friends, and all the 
others, to his house, and makes a great feast ; and then all his 
friends make their boast how the fowls came thither, here five, 
here six, here ten, and there twenty, and so forth; and they 
rejoice greatly to speak thereof. And when they are at meat 
the son brings forth the head of his father, and thereof he 
serves of the flesh to his most special friends, as a dainty. 
And of the skull he makes a cup, and drinks out of it with his 
other friends in great devotion, in remembrance of the holy 
man that the angels of God had eaten. And that cup the 
son shall keep to drink out of all his lifetime, in remembrance 
of his father. 

From that land, in returning by ten days through the land 
of the great chan, is another good isle, and a great kingdom, 
where the king is full rich and mighty. And amongst the 
rich men of his country is a passing rich man, that is neither 
prince, nor duke, nor earl ; but he has more that hold of him 
lands and other lordships ; for he has every year, of annual 
rent, more than three hundred thousand horses charged with 
corn of divers grains and rice; and so he leads a full noble 


and delicate life, after the custom of the country ; for he has 
every day fifty fair damsels, all maidens, that serve him 
evermore at his meat, and to lie by him at night, and 
to do with them what he pleases. And when he is at the 
table, they bring him his meat at every time, five and five 
together; and in bringing their service they sing a song. 
And after that they cut his meat, and put it in his mouth ; 
for he touches nothing, nor handles nought, but holds ever- 
more his hands before him upon the table ; for he has such 
long nails that he may take nothing, nor handle any thing. 
For the nobleness of that country is to have long nails, and to 
make them grow always to be as long as men may ; and there 
are many in that country that have their nails so long that 
they environ all the hand; and that is a great nobleness. 
And the nobleness of the women is to have small feet ; and 
therefore, as soon as they are born, they bind their feet so 
tight that they may not grow half as nature would. And 
always these damsels, that I spoke of before, sing all the time 
that this rich man eateth; and when he eateth no more 
of his first course, then other five and five of fair damsels 
bring him his second course, always singing, as they did 
before ; and so they do continually every day, to the end of 
his meat. And in this manner he leads his life ; and so they 
did before him that were his ancestors ; and so shall they that 
come after him, without doing of any deeds of arms, but live 
evermore thus in ease, as a swine that is fed in a sty to be 
made fat. He has a full fair and rich palace, the walls of 
which are two miles in circuit ; and he has within many fair 
gardens, and many fair halls and chambers ; and the pavement 
of his halls and chambers are of gold and silver. And in the 
middle of one of his gardens is a little mountain, where there 
is a little meadow ; and in that meadow is a little house, with 
towers and pinnacles, all of gold ; and in that little house will 
he sit often to take the air and sport himself. 

And you shall understand that of all these countries and 
isles, and of all the divers people that I have spoken of be- 
fore, and of divers laws, and of divers beliefs that they have, 
there is none of them all but they have some reason and 
understanding in them, and they have certain articles of 
our faith, and some good points of our belief; and they 
believe in God that created all things and made the world ; 
but yet they cannot speak perfectly (for there is no man to 


teach them), but only what they can devise by their natural 
understanding ; for they have no knowledge of the Son nor of 
the Holy Ghost ; but they can all speak of the Bible, namely 
of Genesis, of the Prophets' laws, and of the books of Moses. 
And they say well that the creatures that they worship are no 
gods ; but they worship them for the virtue that is in them. 
And of simulacres, and of idols, they say that there are no 
people but that they have simulacres; and tliey say that 
we Christian men have images, as of our lady, and of other 
saints, that we worship ; not the images of wood or of stone, 
but the saints in whose name they are made ; for right as the 
books of the Scripture teach the clerks how and in what 
manner they shall believe, right so the images and the 
paintings teach the ignorant people to worship the saints, 
and to have them in their minds, in whose name the images 
are made. They say, also, that the angels of God speak to 
them in those idols, and that they do many great miracles. 
And they say truth, that there is an angel within them ; for 
there are two manner of angels, a good and an evil ; as the 
Greeks say, Cache and Calo. This Cache is the wicked angel, 
and Calo is the good angel : but the other is not the good 
angel, but the wicked angel, which is within the idols to de- 
ceive them and maintain them in their error. 

There are many other divers countries, and many other 
marvels beyond, that I have not seen; wherefore I cannot 
speak of them properly. And, also, in the countries where I 
have been are many diversities of many wonderful things, 
more than I make mention of; for it were too long a thing to 
devise you the manner of them all. And therefore now that 
I have devised you of certain countries, which I have spoken 
of before, I beseech your worthy and excellent nobleness that 
it suffice to you at this time ; for if I told you all that is beyond 
the sea, another man, perhaps, who would labour to go into 
those parts to seek those countries, might be blamed by my 
words in rehearsing many strange things ; for he might not 
say any thing new, in the which the hearers might have either 
solace or pleasure. 

And you shall understand that, at my coming home, I came 
to Eome, and showed my life to our holy father the pope, and 
was absolved of all that lay in my conscience of many divers 
grievous points, as men must need that are in company, 
dwelling amongst so many divers people, of divers sects and 

282 SIR JOHN MAUNDEVILLE. [a.D. ] 322. 

beliefs, as I have been. And, amongst all, I showed him this 
treatise, that I had made after information of men that knew 
of things that I had not seen myself; and also of marvels and 
customs that I had seen myself, as far as God would give me 
grace ; and besought his holy fatherhood that my book might 
be examined and corrected by advice of his wise and discreet 
council. And our holy father, of his special grace, gave my 
book to be examined and proved by the advice of his said 
council, by the which my book was proved for true, insomuch 
that they showed me a book, which my book was examined by, 
that comprehended full much more, by an hundredth part, by 
the which the Mappa Mundi was made. And so my book 
(albeit that many men list not to give credence to any thing 
but to what they see with their eye, be the author or the person 
ever so true) is affirmed and proved by our holy father in 
manner and form as I have said. 

And I, John Maundeville, knight, abovesaid, (although I be 
unworthy,) that went from our countries, and passed the sea, 
in the year of Grace 1322, have passed many lands, and many 
isles and countries, and searched many full strange places, and 
have been in many a full good and honourable company, and 
at many a fair deed of arms, (albeit that I did none myself, 
for my insufficiency,) now I am come home (in spite of myself) 
to rest ; for rheumatic gouts, that distress me, fix the end of 
my labour, against my will (God knoweth). And thus, taking 
comfort in my wretched rest, recording the time passed, I have 
fulfilled these things, and written them in this book, as it 
would come into my mind, the year of Grace 1356, in the 
thirty-fourth year that T departed from our country. Where- 
fore I pray to all the readers and hearers of this book, if it 
please them, that they would pray to God for me, and I shall 
pray for them. 



A.D. 1432, 1433. 

To animate and inflame the hearts of such noble men as may 
be desirous of seeing the world, and by the order and com- 
mand of the most high, most powerful, and my most re- 
doubted lord, Philip, by the grace of God duke of Burgundy, 
Lorraine, Brabant^ and Limbourg, count of Flanders, Artois, 
and Burgundy*, palatine of Hainault, Holland, Zealand, and 
Namur, marquis of the Holy Empire, lord of Friesland, Sa- 
lines, and Mechlin, I, Bertrandon de la Brocquiere, a native 
of the duchy of Guienne, lord of Vieux- Chateau, counsellor 
and first esquire-carver to my aforesaid most redoubted lord, 
after bringing to my recollection every event, in addition to 
what I had made an abridgment of in a small book by way 
of memorandums, have fairly written out this account of my 
short travels, in order that if any king or Christian prince 
should wish to make the conquest of Jerusalem, and lead 
thither an army overland, or if any gentleman should be de- 
sirous of travelling thither, they may be made acquainted 
with all the towns, cities, regions, countries, rivers, moun- 
tains, and passes in the different districts, as well as the lords 
to whom they belong, from the duchy of Burgundy to Jeru- 
salem. The route hence to the holy city of Rome is too well 
known for me to stop and describe it. I shall pass lightly 
over this article, and not say much until I come to Syria. I 
have travelled through the whole country from Gaza, which 
is the entrance to Egypt, to within a day s journey of Aleppo, 
a town situated on the north of the frontier, and which we 
pass in going to Persia. 

Having formed a resolution to make a devout pilgrimage 
to Jerusalem, and being determined to discharge my vow, I 

* Burgundy was divided into two parts, the duchy and county. The 
last, since known under the name of Franche Comte, began, at this period, 
to take that appellation ; and this is the reason why our author styles Philip 
duke and count of Burgundy. 


quitted, in the month of February, 1432, the court of my 
most redoubted lord, which was then at Ghent. After tra- 
versing Picardy, Champagne, and Burgundy, I entered Savoy, 
crossed the Rhone, and arrived at Chambery by the Mont-du- 
Chat. Here commences a long chain of mountains, the 
highest of which is called Mount Cenis, which forms a dan- 
gerous pass for travellers in times of snow. The road is so 
difficult to find, that a traveller, unless he wish to lose it, 
must take one of the guides of the country, called Marrons. 
These people advise you not to make any sort of noise that 
may shake the atmosphere round the mountain, for in that 
case the snow is detached, and rolls with impetuosity to the 
ground. Mount Cenis separates Italy from France. 

Having thence descended into Piedmont, a handsome and 
pleasant country, surrounded on three sides by mountains, I 
passed through Turin, where I crossed the Po, and proceeded 
to Asti, which belongs to the duke of Orleans; then to Alex- 
andria, the greater part of the inhabitants of which are said 
to be usurers — to Piacenza, belonging to the duke of Milan — 
and at last to Bologna la Grassa, which is part of the pope's 
dominions. The emperor Sigismund was at Piacenza; he 
had come thither from Milan, where he had received his se- 
cond crown, and was on his road to Rome in search of the 
third *. From Bologna I had to pass another chain of moun- 
tains (the Appennines) to enter the states of the Florentines. 
Florence is a large town, where the commonalty govern. 
Every three months they elect for the government magistrates, 
called priori, who are taken from different professions; and 
as long as they remain in office they are honoured, but on 
the expiration of the three months they return to their former 
situations. From Florence I went to Monte Pulciano, a 
castle built on an eminence, and surrounded on three sides 
by a large lake (Lago di Perugia), thence to Spoleto, Monte 
Fiascone, and at length to Rome. 

Rome is well known. Authors of veracity assure us that 
for seven hundred years she was mistress of the world. But 
although their writings should not affirm this, would there 
not be sufficiency of proof in all the grand edifices now exist- 

* In 1414, Sigismund, elected emperor, had received the silver crown at 
Aix-la-Chapelle. In the month of November, 1431, a little before the pas- 
sage of our traveller, he had received the iron crown at Milan ; but it was 
not until 1443 he received at Home, from the hands of the pope, that of gold. 

A.D. 1432.] VENICE. 285 

ing, in those columns of marble, those statues, and those 
monuments as marvellous to see as to describe? Add to the 
above the immense quantities of relics that are there; 
so many things that our Lord has touched, such numbers of 
holy bodies of apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins ; in 
short, so many churches where the holy pontiffs have granted 
full indulgences for sin. I saw there Eugenius IV., a Vene- 
tian, who had just been elected pope*. The prince of Saler- 
num had declared war against him; he was of the Colonna 
family, and nephew to pope Martin f. 

I quitted Rome the 25th of March, and, passing through a 
town belonging to count de Thalamone, a relation to the car- 
dinal des Ursins, arrived at Urbino; thence I proceeded 
through the lordships of the Malatestas to Rimini, a part of 
the Venetian dominions. I crossed three branches of the 
Po, and came to Chiosa, a town of the Venetians, which had 
formerly a good harbour ; but this was destroyed by them- 
selves when the Genoese came to lay siege to Venice. From 
Chiosa, I landed at Venice, distant twenty-five miles 

Venice is a large and handsome town, ancient and commer- 
cial, and built in the middle of the sea. Its different quar- 
ters being separated by water form so many islands, so that a 
boat is necessary to go from one to the other. This town 
possesses the body of St. Helena, mother of the emperor 
Constantine, as well as many others that I have seen, espe- 
cially several bodies of the Holy Innocents, which are entire. 
These last are in an island called Murano, renowned for its 
manufactories of glass. The government of Venice is full of 
wisdom. No one can be a member of the council, nor hold 
any employment, unless he be noble and bom in the town. 
It has a duke, who is bound to have ever with him, during the 
day, six of the most ancient and celebrated members of the 
council. When the duke dies, his successor is chosen from 

* We shall see hereafter, that la Brocquiere left Rome on the 25th 
March, and Eugenius had been elected on the first days of the month. There 
is some doubt whether his election took place on the 3rd, 4th, or 6th of 
March; he occupied the papal see till Feb. 23, 1447. 

+ Martin v., predecessor to Eugenius, was a Colonna; and there was a 
declared enmity Ijetween his family and that of the Orsini. Eugenius, when 
established in the holy chair, took part in this quarrel, and sided with the 
Orsini against the Colonnas, who were nephews to Martin. The last took 
up arms, and made war on him. 


among those who have shown the greatest knowledge and 
zeal for the public good. 

On the 8th of May I embarked to accomplish my vow, on 
board a galley, with some other pilgrims. We sailed along 
the coast of Sclavonia, and successively touched at Pola, Zara, 
Sebenico, and Corfu. Pola seemed to me to have been for- 
merly a handsome and strong town, with an excellent harbour. 
We were shown at Zara the body of St. Simeon, to whom our 
Lord was presented in the Temple. The town is surrounded 
on three sides by the sea, and its fine port is shut in by an 
iron chain. Sebenico belongs to the Venetians, as does Corfu, 
which, with a very handsome harbour, has also two castles. 

From Corfu we sailed to Modon, a good and fair town in 
the Morea, also belonging to the Venetians ; thence to Can- 
dia, a most fertile island, the inhabitants of which are excel- 
lent sailors. The government of Venice nominates a gover- 
nor, who takes the title of duke, but who holds his place only 
three years. Thence to Rhodes, where I had but time to see 
the town ; to Baffa, a ruined town in the island of Cyprus ; and 
at length to Jaffa, in the Holy Land of Promise. 

At Jaffa, the pardons commence for pilgrims to the Holy 
Land. It formerly belonged to the Christians, and was then 
strong ; at present it is entirely destroyed, having only a few 
tents covered with reeds, whither pilgrims retire to shelter 
themselves from the heat of the sun. The sea enters the 
town, and forms a bad and shallow harbour; it is dangerous 
to remain there long for fear of being driven on sbore by a 
gust of wind. There are two springs of fresh water; but 
one is overflowed by the sea when the westerly wind blows a 
little strong. When any pilgrims disembark here, interpre- 
ters and other officers of the sultan ^-i^ instantly hasten to as- 
certain their numbers, to serve them as guides, and to receive, 
in the name of their master, the customary tribute. 

Ramie, the first town we came to from Jaffa, is without 
walls, but a good and commercial town, seated in an agree- 
able and fertile district. We went to visit, in the neighbour- 
hood, a village where St. George was martyred ; and, on our 
return to Ramie, we continued our route, and arrived, after 

* The sultans of Egypt are here meant. Palestine and Syria were at 
that time imder their power. The sultan will be often mentioned in the 
course of the work. 


two days, at the holy city of Jerusalem, where our Lord Jesus 
Christ suffered death for us. After making the customary 
pilgrimages, we performed those to the mountain where Jesus 
fasted forty days ; to the Jordan, where he was baptized ; to 
the church of St. John, near to that river; to that of St. 
Martha and St. Mary Magdalene, where our Lord raised Laza- 
rus from the dead ; to Bethlehem, where he was born ; to the 
birth-place of St. John the Baptist; to the house of Zacha- 
riah ; and, lastly, to the holy cross, where the tree grew that 
formed the real cross, after which we returned to Jerusalem. 

The Cordeliers have a church at Bethlehem, in which they 
perform divine service, but they are under great subjection to 
the Saracens. The town is only inhabited by Saracens, and 
some Christians of the girdle^. 

At the birth-place of St. John the Baptist, a rock is shown, 
which, during the time of Herod's persecution of the inno- 
cents, opened itself miraculously in two, w^hen St. Elizabeth 
having therein hid her son, it closed again of itself, and the 
child remained shut up, as it is said, two whole days. 

Jerusalem is situated in a mountainous and strong country, 
and is at this day a considerable town, although it appears to 
have been much more so in former times. It is under the 
dominion of the sultan, to the shame and grief of Christen- 
dom. Among the free Christians, there are but two Corde- 
liers who inhabit the holy sepulchre, and even they are 
oppressed by the Saracens ; I can speak of it from my own 
knowledge, having been witness of it for two months. In 
the church of the Holy Sepulchre reside also many other sorts 
of Christians, Jacobites, Armenians, Abyssinians from the 
country of Prester John, and Christians of the girdle ; but of 
these the Franks suffer the greatest hardships. 

When all these pilgrimages were accomplished, we under- 
took another, equally customary, that to St. Catherine's on 
Mount Sinai. For this purpose we formed a party of ten 
pilgrims, Sir Andre de Thoulongeon, Sir Michel de Ligne, 
Guillaume de Ligne, his brother, Sanson de Lalaing, Pierre 
de Vaudrey, Godefroi de Thoisi, Humbert Buffart, Jean de la 
Eoe, Simonetf, and myself. 

"*■ See before, p. 189. 

+ The family name of this person is left blank in the original. These 
names, of which the first five are those of great lords in the states of the 
duke of Burgundy, show that several persons of the duke's coui't had formed 


For the information of others, who, like myself, may wish 
to visit this country, I shall say, that the custom is to treat 
■with the chief interpreter at Jerusalem, who receives a tax 
for the sultan, and one for himself, and then sends to inform 
the interpreter at Gaza, who, in his turn, negotiates a passage 
with the Arabians of the desert. These Arabs enjoy the 
right of conducting pilgrims; and, as they are not always 
under due subjection to the sultan, their camels must be used, 
which they let to hire at ten ducats a head. The Saracen 
who at this time held the ojQfice of chief interpreter was called 
Nanchardin. Having received the answer from the Arabs, 
he called us together before the chapel, which is at the 
entrance and on the left of the holy sepulchre ; he there took 
down in writing our ages, names, surnames, and very par- 
ticular descriptions of our persons, and sent a duplicate of 
this to the chief interpreter at Cairo. These precautions are 
taken for the security of travellers, and to prevent the Arabs 
from detaining any of them ; but I am persuaded that it is 
done likewise through mistrust, and through fear of some ex- 
change or substitution that may make them lose the tribute- 
money. On the eve of our departure we bought wine for 
the journey, and laid in a stock of provision, excepting bis- 
cuit, which we were to find at Gaza. Nanchardin having 
provided asses and mules to carry us and our provision, with 
a particular interpreter, we set off. 

The first place we came to was a village formerly more con- 
siderable, at present inhabited by Christians of the girdle, 
who cultivate vines. The second was a town called St. Abra- 
ham, and situated in the valley of Hebron, where our Lord 
created our first father Adam. In that place are buried 
together Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their wives ; but 
this sepulchre is now inclosed within a mosque of the Sara- 
cens. We were anxious to see it, and even advanced to the 
gate; but our guides and interpreter assured us they dared not 
suffer us to enter in the day-time, on account of the dangers 
they should run, and that any Christian found within a 
mosque is instantly put to death, unless he renounces his 

a company for this pilgrimage to Palestine, and are, probably, those who em- 
barked with our author at Venice, although he has not before named them. 
Toulongeon was created this same year, 1432, a knight of the golden fleece, 
but was not invested with the order; for he was then a pilgrim, and died on 
the road. 

A.D. 1432.] GAZA. 289 

religion. After the valley of Hebron, we traversed another 
of greater extent, near to which the mountain on which St. 
John performed his penitence was pointed out to us. Thence 
we crossed a desert country, and lodged in one of those houses 
built through charity, and called khan; from this khan we 
came to Gaza. 

Gaza, situated in a fine country near the sea, and at the 
entrance of the desert, is a strong town, although uninclosed. 
It is pretended that it formerly belonged to the famous Sam- 
son. His palace is still shown, and also the columns of that 
w^iich he pulled down ; but I dare not affirm that these are 
the same. Pilgrims are harshly treated there ; and we also 
should have suffered, had it not been for the governor, a man 
about sixty years of age, and a Circassian, who heard our 
complaints and did us justice. Thrice were we obliged to 
appear before him; once, on account of the swords we wore, 
and the two other times for quarrels which the Saracen 
moucres sought to have with us. Many of us wished to pur- 
chase asses ; for the camel has a very rough movement, which 
is extremely fatiguing to those unaccustomed to it. An ass 
is sold at Gaza for two ducats; but the moucres not only 
wanted to prevent our buying any, but to force us to hire asses 
from them, at the price of five ducats, to St. Catherine's. 
This conduct was represented to the governor. For myself, 
who had hitherto ridden on a camel, and had no intention of 
changing, I desired they would tell me how I could ride a 
camel and an ass at the same time. The governor decided 
in our favour, and ordered that we should not be forced to 
hire any asses from the moucres against our inclinations. We 
here laid in fresh provisions necessary for the continuance of 
our journey; but, on the eve of our departure, four of my 
companions fell sick, and returned to Jerusalem. I set off 
with the five others, and we came to a village situated at the 
entrance of the desert, and the only one to be met with between 
Gaza and St. Catherine's. Sir Sanson de Lalaing also there 
quitted us, and returned ; so that our company consisted of 
Sir Andrew de Toulongeon, Pierre de Yaudrei, Godefroi de 
Toisi, Jean de la Koe, and myself. 

We thus travelled two days in the desert, absolutely without 
seeing any thing deserving to be related. Only one morning 
I saw, before sunrise, an animal running on four legs, about 
three feet long, but scarcely a palm in height. The Ai'a- 



Hans fled at the sight of it, and the animal hastened to hide 
itself in a hush hard by. Sir iVndrew and Pierre de Vaudrei 
dismounted, and pursued it sword in hand, when it began to 
cry like a cat on the approach of a dog. Pierre de Vaudrei 
struck it on the back with the point of his sword, but did it 
no harm, from its being covered with scales like a sturgeon. 
It sprung at Sir Andrew, who, with a blow from his sword, 
cut the neck partly through, and flung it on its back, with its 
feet in the air, and killed it. The head resembled that of a 
large hare; the feet were like the hands of a young child, 
with a pretty long tail, like that of the large green lizard. 
Our Arabs and interpreter told us it was very dangerous -i^. 

At the end of the second day's journey I was seized with 
such a burning fever that it was impossible for me to proceed. 
My four companions, distressed at this accident, made me 
mount an ass, and recommended me to one of our Arabs, 
whom they charged to reconduct me, if possible, to Gaza. 
This man took a great deal of care of me, which is unusual 
in respect to Christians. He faithfully kept me company, 
and led me in the evening to pass the night in one of their 
camps, w^hich might consist of fourscore and some tents, 
pitched in the form of a street. These tents consist of two 
poles stuck in the ground by the bigger end, at a certain 
distance from each other, and on them is placed another pole 
cross- way, and over this last is laid a thick coverlid of woollen, 
or coarse hair. On my arrival, four or five Arabs, who were 
acquainted with my companion, came to meet us. They dis- 
mounted me from my ass, and laid me on a mattress which I 
had with me, and then, treatiug me according to their 
method, kneaded and pinched me so much with their hands f , 
that from fatigue and lassitude I slept and reposed for six 
hours. During this time no one did me the least harm, nor 
took any thing from me. It would, however, have been very- 
easy for them to do so ; and I must have been a tempting 
prey, for I had v/ith me two hundred ducats, and two camels 
laden with provision and wdne. 

* From this vague description, it should seem that the animal spoken of 
was the great lizard, called monitor, because it is pretended that it gives 
information of the approach of a crocodile. The monitor is common in the 
Euphrates, where it is sometimes seen four or five feet in length. The 
terror of the Arabs was groundless. 

+ This is what is called in French, masser, a method used in several 
parts of the east for certain disorders. 


I set out, on my return to Gaza, before day ; but when T 
came thither, I found neither my four companions who had 
remained behind nor Sir Sanson de Lalaing : the whole five 
had returned to Jerusalem, carrying with them the interpreter. 
Fortunately I met with a Sicilian Jew to whom I could make 
myself understood ; and he sent me an old Samaritan, who, 
by some medicines which he gave me, appeased the great 
heat I endured. Two days after, finding myself a little 
better, I set off in company with a Moor, who conducted me 
by a road on the sea-side. We passed near Ascalon, and 
thence traversed an agreeable and fertile country to Eamle, 
where I regained the road to Jerusalem. 

On the first day's journey I met on my road the governor 
of that town returning from a pilgrimage, with a company of 
fifty horsemen, and one hundred camels, mounted principally 
by women and children, who had attended him to his place 
of devotion. I passed the night with them, and the morrow, 
on my return to Jerusalem, took up my lodgings with the 
Cordeliers at the church of Mount Sion, where I again met 
my five comrades. 

. On my arrival I went to bed, that my disorder might be 
properly treated ; but I was not cured, or in a state to depart, 
until the 19th of August. During my convalescence I re- 
collected that I had frequently heard it said that it was im- 
possible for a Christian to return overland from Jerusalem to 
France. I dare not, even now, when I have performed this 
journey, assert that it is safe. I thought, nevertheless, that 
nothing was impossible for a man to undertake, who has a 
constitution strong enough to support fatigue, and has money 
and health. It is not, however, through vain boasting that I 
say this ; but, with the aid of God and his glorious mother, 
who never fail to assist those who pray to them heartily, I 
resolved to attempt the journey. I kept my project secret 
for some time, without even hinting it to my companions : I 
was also desirous, before I undertook it, to perform other 
pilgrimages, especially those to Nazareth and Mount Tabor. 
I went, in consequence, to make Nanchardin, principal inter- 
preter to the sultan, acquainted with my intentions, who sup- 
plied me with a sufficient interpreter for my journey. I 
thought of making my first pilgrimage to Mount Tabor, and 
every thing was prepared for it ; but when I was on the point 
of setting out, the head of the convent where I lodged dis- 

u 2 


suaded me, and opposed my intentions most strongly. The 
interpreter, on his side, refused to go, saying, that in the 
present circumstances I should not find any person to attend 
me ; for that the road lay through the territories of towns 
which were at war with each other, and that very lately a Ve- 
netian and his interpreter had been assassinated there. I 
confined myself, therefore, to the second pilgrimage, in which 
Sir Sanson de Lalaing and Humbert wished to accompany 
me. We left Sir Michel de Ligne sick at Mount Sion, and 
his brother William remained with his servant to attend on 
him. The rest of us set off on the day of mid- August, with 
the intention of going to Jaffa by way of Ramie, and from 
Jaffa to Nazareth ; but, before I departed, I went to the tomb 
of our Lady, to implore her protection for my grand journey 
home. I heard divine service at the Cordeliers, and saw there 
people who call themselves Christians, but some of them are 
very strange ones, according to our notions. 

The principal monk at Jerusalem was so friendly as to ac- 
company us as far as Jaffa, with a Cordelier friar of the con- 
vent of Beaune. They there quitted us, and we engaged a 
bark from the Moors, which carried us to the port of Acre. 
This is a handsome port, deep and well inclosed. The town 
itself appears to have been large and strong ; but at present 
there do not exist more than three hundred houses, situated 
at one of its extremities, and at some distance from the sea. 
With regard to our pilgrimage, we could not accomplish it. 
Some Venetian merchants, whom we consulted, dissuaded us, 
and from what they said we gave it up. They told us, at 
the same time, that a galley from Narbonne was expected at 
Baruth ; and my comrades being desirous to take that oppor- 
tunity of returning to France, w^e consequently followed the 
road to that town. We saw, on our way thither, Sur, an in- 
closed town, with a good port, then Seyde, another sea-port 
tolerably good. Baruth has been more considerable than it 
is now, but its port is still handsome, deep, and safe for 
vessels. On one of its points we see the remains of a strong 
castle which it formerly had, but which is now in ruins *. 

* Sur is the ancient Tyre — Seyde, Sidon — Baruth, Berytus. What la 
Brocquiere here says is interesting for geography : it proves that all these 
sea-ports of Syria, formerly so commercial and famous, but at this day so 
degraded and completely useless, were, in his time, for the greater part, fit 
for commerce. 

A.D. 1432.] DAMASCUS. 293 

As for myself, solely occupied with my grand journey, I 
employed the time we staid in this town in seeking informa- 
tion concerning it; and to this end addressed myself to a 
Genoese merchant, called Jacques Pervezin. He advised me 
to go to Damascus, assuring me that I should find there 
merchants from Venice, Catalonia, Florence, Genoa, and other 
places, whose counsels might gaide me. He even gave me a 
letter of recommendation to a countryman of his, named Otto- 
bon Escot. Being resolved to consult Escot before I proceeded 
farther, I proposed to Sir Sanson to go and see Damascus, 
without, however, telling him any thing of my project. He 
accepted my proposal with pleasure, and we set out under the 
conduct of a moucre. I have before said that the moucres 
in Syria are the people whose trade is conducting travellers, 
and hiring out to them asses and mules. 

On quitting Baruth, we had to traverse some high moun- 
tains to a long plain, called the valley of Noah, because it is 
said that Noah there built the ark. This valley is not, at 
the utmost, more than a league wide ; but it is pleasant and 
fertile, watered by two rivers, and peopled by Arabs. As far 
as Damascus, we continued to travel betw^een mountains, at 
whose feet are many villages and vineyards. But I warn 
those who, like me, shall have occasion to make this journey, to 
take good care of themselves during the night, for in my life 
I never felt such cold. This excess of cold is caused by the 
fall of the dew '5^, and it is thus throughout Syria. The 
greater the heat during the day, the more abundant the dew 
and the cold of the night. 

It is two days' journey from Baruth to Damascus. The 
Mohammedans have established a particular custom for Chris- 
tians all through Syria, in not permitting them to enter the 
towns on horseback. None that are known to be such dare 
do it, and, in consequence, our moucre made Sir Sanson and 
myself dismount before we entered any town. Scarcely had 
we arrived in Damascus than about a dozen Saracens came 
round to look at us. I wore a broad beaver hat, which is un- 
usual in that country ; and one of them gave me a blow with 
a staff, which knocked it off my head on the ground f. I own 
that my first movement was to lift my fist at him ; but the 

* More probably the cold was caused by the ascent of Mount Libanus. 
f It is onlj'- lately that the people of Damascus have been cured of their 
bigoted conduct towards black hats. 


moucre, throwing himself between us, pushed me aside, and 
very fortunately for me he did so, for in an instant we were 
surrounded by thirty or forty persons ; and if I had given a 
blow, I know not what would have become of us. I mention 
this circumstance to show that the inhabitants of Damascus 
are a wicked race, and, consequently, care should be taken to 
avoid any quarrels with them. It is the same in other Mo- 
hammedan countries. I know by experience that you must 
not joke with them, nor at the same time seem afraid, nor 
appear poor, for then they will despise you; nor rich, for 
they are very avaricious, as all who have disembarked at Jaffa 
know to their cost. 

Damascus may contain, as I have heard, one hundred thou- 
sand souls. The town is rich, commercial, and, after Cairo, 
the most considerable of all in the possession of the sultan. 
To the north, south, and east is an extensive plain : to the 
west rises a mountain, at the foot of which the suburbs are 
built. A river runs through it, which is divided into several 
canals. The town only is inclosed by a handsome wall, for the 
suburbs are larger than the town. I have nowhere seen such 
extensive gardens, better fruits, nor greater plenty of water. 
This is said to be so abundant, that there is scarcely a house 
without a fountain. The governor is only inferior to the 
sultan in all Syria and Egypt ; but, as at different times some 
governors have revolted, the sultans have taken precautions 
to restrain them within proper bounds. Damascus has a 
strong castle on the side toward the mountain, with wide and 
deep ditches, over which the sultan appoints a captain of his 
own friends, who never suffers the governor to enter it. It 
was, in 1400, destroyed and reduced to ashes by Tamerlane. 
Vestiges of this disaster now remain ; and toward the gate of 
St. Paul there is a whole quarter that has never been rebuilt. 
There is a khan in the tow^n, appropriated as a deposit and place 
of safety to merchants and their goods. It is called Khan Ber- 
kot, from its having originally been the residence of a person 
of that name. For my part, I believe that Berkot was a 
Frenchman "'' ; and what inclines me to this opinion is, that 
on a stone of the house are carved fleur-de-lis, which 
appear as ancient as the walls. Whatever may have been 

* This explanation may possibly admit of a doubt ; hir, in Arabic, signi- 
iies a well ; hut is also an Arabic word frequently found in names of places, 
as Kut-el-Amara, &c. 

A.D. 1432.] DAMASCUS. 295 

his origin, lie was a very gallant man, and to this day enjoys 
a high reputation in that country. Never during his lifetime, 
and while he was in power, could the Persians or Tartars gain 
the smallest portion of land in Syria. The moment he learned 
that one of their armies was advancing, he instantly marched 
to meet it, as far as the river, heyond Aleppo, that separates 
Syria from Persia, and which, from a guess of the situation, 
I believe to he the river Jehon, which falls into the Misses in 
Turcomania*. The people of Damascus are persuaded that, 
had he lived, Tamerlane would never have carried his arms 
thither. Tamerlane, however, did honour to his memory; 
for when he took the tow^n, and ordered it to be set on fire, 
he commanded the house of Berkot to be spared, and ap- 
pointed a guard to prevent its being hurt by the fire, so that 
it subsists to this day. 

The Christians are hated at Damascus. Every evening the 
merchants are shut up in their houses by persons appointed 
for this purpose, who, on the morrow, come to open their 
gates when it may please them. I found there many Genoese, 
Venetian, Calabrian, Florentine, and French merchants. The 
last were come thither to purchase several articles, and par- 
ticularly spiceries, with the intention of taking them to Ba- 
ruth, and embarking them on board the galley expected from 
Narbonne. Among them was Jacques Cceurf, who has since 
acted a great part in France, and was master of the wardrobe 
to the king. He told us the galley was then at Alexandria, 
and that probably Sir Andrew and his three companions would 
embark on board at Baruth. 

I was shown the place, without the walls of Damascus, 
where St. Paul had a vision, was struck blind, and thrown 
from his horse. He caused himself to be conducted to Da- 
mascus, where he was baptized ; but the place of his baptism 
is now a mosque. I saw also the stone from which St. George 
mounted his horse when he went to combat the dragon. It 
is two feet square ; and they say, that when formerly the Sa- 

* De la Brocquiere doubtless means the Euphrates. 

+ Jacques Cceur was an extraordinary character, and a striking instance 
of the ingratitude of monarchs. Although of low origin, he raised himself 
by his abilities to high honours, and acquired by his activity immense riches. 
He was one of the most celebrated merchants that ever existed ; and had it 
not been for his superior management of the finances, the generals, able as 
they were, of Charles VII. would never have expelled the English from 


Tacens attempted to carry it away, in spite of all the strength 
they employed they could not succeed. 

Having seen Damascus, Sir Sanson and myself returned 
to Baruth, where w^e found Sir Andrew, Pierre de Yaudrei, 
Geoffroi de Toisi, and Jean de la Roe, who had come thither, 
as Jacques Coeur had told us. The galley arrived from Alex- 
andria two or three days afterward; and, during this short 
interval, we witnessed a feast celebrated by the Moors in their 
ancient manner. It began in the evening at sunset. Numer- 
ous companies, scattered here and there, were singing and 
uttering loud cries. While this was passing, the cannons of 
the castle were fired, and the people of the town launched 
into the air, very high and to a great distance, a kind of hre, 
larger than the greatest lantern that I ever saw lighted. 
They told me they sometimes made use of such at sea, to set 
fire to the sails of an enemy's vessel. It seems to me, that 
as it is a thing easy to be made, and of little expense, it may 
be equally well employed to burn a camp or a thatched village, 
or in an engagement with cavalry to frighten the horses. 
Curious to know its composition, I sent the servant of my 
host to the person who made this fire, and requested him to 
teach me the method. He returned for answer that he dared 
not, for that he should run great danger were it known ; but 
as there is nothing a Moor will not do for money, I offered 
him a ducat, which quieted his fears, and he taught me all 
he knew, and even gave me the moulds in wood, with the 
other ingredients, which I have brought to France. 

The evening before the embarkation, I took Sir Andrew de 
Toulongeon aside, and, having made him promise that he 
would not make any opposition to what I was about to reveal 
to him, I informed him of my design to return home over- 
land. In consequence of his promise, he did not attempt to 
hinder me, but represented all the dangers I should have to 
encounter, and the risk I should run of being forced to deny 
my faith to Jesus Christ. I must own that his representa- 
tions were w^ell founded ; and of all the perils he had menaced 
me w^ith, there was not one I did not experience, except de- 
nying my religion. He engaged his companions to talk with 
me also on this subject; but what they urged was vain: I 
suffered them to set sail, and remained at Baruth. 

On their departure, I visited a mosque that had originally 
been a handsome church, built, as it is said, by St. Barbara. 

A.D. 1432.] BEIKOUT. 297 

It is added that, when the Saracens had gained possession, 
and their criers had, as usual, ascended the tower to announce 
the time of prayer, they were so beaten that from that day 
no one has ventured to return thither. There is also another 
miraculous building that has been changed into a church, 
which formerly was a house belonging to the Jews. One day 
these people finding an image of our Lord began to stone it, 
as their fathers had in times past stoned the Original ; but 
the image having shed blood, they w^ere so frightened with 
the miracle, that they fled and accused themselves to the 
bishop, and gave up even their house in reparation for their 
crime. It was made into a church, which at present is served 
by the Cordeliers. 

I was lodged at the house of a Venetian merchant, named 
Paul Barberico ; and as I had not entirely renounced my 
two pilgrimages to Nazareth and Mount Tabor, in spite of 
the obstacles which it had been said I should meet with, I 
consulted him on this double journey. He procured for me 
a moucre, who undertook to conduct me, and bound himself 
before him to carry me safe and sound as far as Damascus, 
and to bring him back from thence a certificate of having 
performed his engagement, signed by me. This man made 
me dress myself like a Saracen. The Franks, for their se- 
curity in travelling, have obtained permission from the sultan 
to wear this dress when on a journey. 

I departed with my moucre from Baruth on the morrow 
after the galley had sailed, and we followed the road to Seyde 
that lies between the sea and the mountains. These frequently 
run so far into the sea that travellers are forced to go on the 
sands, and at other times they are three-quarters of a league 
distant. After an hour's ride, I came to a small wood of 
lofty pines, which the people of the country preserve with 
care. It is even forbidden to cut down any of them ; but I 
am ignorant of the reason for such a regulation. Further on 
was a tolerably deep river, which my moucre said came from 
the valley of Noah, but the water was not good to drink. It 
had a stone bridge over it, and hard by w^as a khan, where we 
passed the night. On the morrow we arrived at Seyde, a 
town situated near the sea, and inclosed on the land side by 
ditches, which are not deep. Sur, called by the Moors Sour, 
has a similar situation. It is supplied with excellent water 
from a spring a quarter of a league to the southward of the 


town, conducted to it by an aqueduct. I only passed through; 
and it seemed to be handsome, though not strong, any more 
than Seyde, both having been formerly destroyed, as appears 
from their walls, which are not to be compared to those of our 
towns. The mountain near Sur forms a crescent, the two 
horns advancing as far as the sea : the void between them is 
not filled with villages, though there are many on the sides of 
the mountain. A league farther we came to a pass which 
forced us to travel over a bank, on the summit of which is a 
tower. Travellers going to Acre have no other road than 
this, and the tower has been erected for their security. From 
this defile to Acre the mountains are low, and many habita- 
tions are visible, inhabited, for the greater part, by Arabs. 
Near the town I met a great lord of the country, called Fan- 
cardin : he was encamped on the open plain, carrying his 
tents with him. 

Acre, though in a plain of about four leagues in extent, is 
surrounded on three sides by mountains, and on the fourth 
by the sea. I made acquaintance there with a Venetian mer- 
chant, called Aubert Franc, who received me well, and pro- 
cured me much useful information respecting my two pilgrim- 
ages, by which I profited. With the aid of his advice, I 
took the road to Nazareth, and, having crossed an extensive 
plain, came to the fountain, the water of which our Lord 
changed into wine at the marriage of Archetriclin -- : it is 
near a village w^iere St. Peter is said to have been born. 

Nazareth is another large village, built between two moun- 
tains; but the place where the angel Gabriel came to an- 
nounce to the Virgin Mary that she would be a mother is in 
a pitiful state. The church which had been built there is en- 
tirely destroyed ; and of the house wherein our lady was when 
the angel appeared to her, not the smallest remnant exists. 

From Nazareth I went to Mount Tabor, the place where 
the transfiguration of our Lord, and many other miracles, 
took place. These pasturages attract the Arabs, who come 
thither with their beasts; and I was forced to engage four 
additional men as an escort, two of whom were Arabs. The 
ascent of the mountain is rugged, because there is no road : 
I performed it on the back of a mule, but it took me two 
hours. The summit is terminated by an almost circular 

* See before, p. 47, 

,A.D. 1432.] THE TIBEKIADE. 299 

plain of about two bow-shots in length, and one in width. 
It was formerly inclosed within walls, the ruins of which, 
and the ditches, are still visible : within the wall, and around 
it, were several churches, and one especially, where, although 
in ruins, full pardon for vice and sin is gained. 

To the east of Mount Tabor, and at the foot of it, we saw 
the Tiberiade, beyond which the Jordan flows. To the west- 
ward is an extensive plain, very agreeable from its gardens, 
filled with date palm trees, and small tufts of trees planted 
like vines, on which grows the cotton. At sun-rise these 
last have a singular effect, and, seeing their green leaves 
covered with cotton, the traveller would suppose it had snowed 
on them -i^ I descended into this plain to dinner, for I had 
brought with me chickens and wine. My guides conducted 
me to the house of a man, who, when he saw my wine, 
took me for a person of consequence, and received me well. 
He brought me a porringer of milk, another of honey, and 
a branch loaded with dates. They were the first I had ever 
seen. I noticed also the manner of manufactuiing cotton, in 
which men and women were employed. Here my guides 
wanted to extort more money from me, and insisted on making 
a fresh bargain to reconduct me to Nazareth. It was well I 
had not my sword with me, for I confess I should have drawn 
it ; and it would have been madness in me, and in all who 
shall imitate me. The result of the quarrel was, that I was 
obliged to give them twelve drachms of their money, equiva- 
lent to half a ducat. The moment they had received them, 
the whole four left me, so that I was obliged to return alone 
with my moucre. 

We had not proceeded far on our road when we saw" two 
Arabs, armed in their manner, and mounted on beautiful 
horses, coming towards us. The moucre was much frightened ; 
but, fortunately, they passed us without saying a w^ord. He 
owned that, had they suspected I was a Christian, they would 
have killed us both without mercy, or, at the least, have strip- 
ped us naked. Each of them bore a long and thin pole, shod 
at the ends with iron ; one of which was pointed, the other 
round, but having many sharp blades a span long. Their 

* M. de la Brocquiere is here probably mistaken. The cotton tree re- 
sembles in its leaves the vine : but the cotton is formed in capsules, and not 
on the leaves. There are many trees whose leaves are covered externally 
with a white down, but none that in this manner produce cotton. 


buckler was round, according to their custom, convex at the 
centre, whence came a thick point of iron ; and from that 
point to the bottom it was ornamented with a long silken 
fringe. They were dressed in robes, the sleeves of which, a foot 
and a half wide, hung down their arms ; and instead of a cap 
they had a round hat, terminated in a point of rough crimson 
wool, which, instead of having the linen cloth twisted about 
it like other Moors, fell down on each side of it, the whole of 
its breadth. 

We went to lodge at Samaria, because I wished to see the 
lake of Tiberias, where, it is said, St. Peter was accustomed 
to fish ; and, by so doing, some pardons may be gained, for it 
was the ember week of September. The moucre left me 
to myself the whole day. Samaria is situated on the ex- 
tremity of a mountain. We entered it at the close of the 
day, and left it at midnight to visit the lake. The moucre 
had proposed this hour to evade the tribute extracted from all 
who go thither ; but the night hindered me from seeing the 
surrounding country. I went first to Joseph's well, so called 
from his being cast into it by his brethren. There is a hand- 
some mosque near it, which I entered, with my moucre, pre- 
tending to be a Saracen. Further on is a stone bridge over 
the Jordan, called Jacob's Bridge, on account of a house hard 
by, said to have been the residence of that patriarch. The 
river Hows from a great lake situated at the foot of a mountain 
to the north-west, on which Namcardin has a very handsome 

From the lake I took the road to Damascus. The country 
is tolerably pleasant ; and, although the road leads between 
mountains, they are generally from one to two leagues asunder. 
There is, however, one narrow place, where the road is only 
wide enough for a horse to pass. The tract all around it, to 
the right and left for the space of about a league in length 
and breadth, is covered with immense flint stones, like pebbles 
in a river, the greater part as big as a wine-tun. Beyond 
this pass is a handsome khan, surrounded by fountains and 
rivulets. Four or five miles from Damascus is another, the 
most magnificent I ever saw, seated near a small river, formed 
by a junction of springs rising on the spot. The nearer you 
approach the town, the finer is the country. 

I met, near Damascus, a very black Moor, who had ridden 
a camel from Cairo in eight days, though it is usually sixteen 


days' journey. His camel had run away from him ; but, with 
the assistance of my moucre, we recovered it. These couriers 
have a singular saddle, on which they sit cross-legged ; but 
the rapidity of the camel is so great that, to prevent any bad 
effects from the air, they have their heads and bodies tightly 
bandaged. This courier was the bearer of an order from the 
sultan. A galley and two galliots of the prince of Tarentum 
had captured, before Tripoli in Syria, a vessel from the Moors ; 
and the sultan, by way of reprisal, had sent to arrest all the 
Catalonians and Genoese who might be found in Damascus 
and throughout Syria. This news, which my moucre told me, 
did not alarm me : I entered the town boldly with other 
Saracens, because, dressed like them, I thought I had nothing 
to fear. This expedition had taken up seven days. 

On the morrow of my arrival I saw the caravan return 
from Mecca. It was said to be composed of three thousand 
camels ; and, in fact, it was two days and as many nights be- 
fore they had all entered the town. This event was, accord- 
ing to custom, a great festival. The governor of Damascus, 
attended by the principal persons of the town, went to meet 
the caravan out of respect to the Alcoran, which it bore. This 
is the book of law which Mohammed left to his followers. It 
was enveloped in a silken covering, painted over with Moorish 
inscriptions ; and the camel that bore it was, in like manner, 
decorated all over with silk. Four musicians, and a great 
number of drums and trumpets, preceded the camel, and 
made a loud noise. In front, and around, were about thirty 
men — some bearing cross-bows, others drawn swords, others 
small harquebuses, which they fired off every now and then *. 
Behind this camel followed eight old men, mounted on the 
swiftest camels, and near them were led their horses, magni- 
ficently caparisoned and ornamented with rich saddles, accord- 
ing to the custom of the country. After them came a Turkish 
lady, a relation of the grand seignior, in a litter borne by two 
camels with rich housings. There were many of these ani- 
mals covered with cloth of gold. The caravan was composed 
of Moors, Turks, Barbaresques, Tartars, Persians, and other 
sectaries of the false prophet Mohammed. These people pre- 
tend that, having once made a pilgrimage to Mecca, they can- 
not be damned. Of this I was assured by a renegade slave, 

* This is an early mention of portable fire-arms in the East : they were 
at this time noyelties in Europe. 


a Bulgarian by birth, who belonged to the lady I have men- 
tioned. He was called Hayauldoula, which signifies, in the 
Turkish language, "servant of God," and pretended to have 
been three times at Mecca. I formed an acquaintance with 
him, because he spoke a little Italian, and often kept me 
company in the night as well as in the day. In our conver- 
sations I frequently questioned him about Mohammed, and 
where his body was interred. He told me he was at Mecca ; 
that the shrine containing the body was in a circular chapel, 
open at the top, and that it was through this opening the 
pilgrims saw the shrine ; that among them were some w^ho, 
having seen it, had their eyes thrust out, because they said, 
after what they had just seen, the world could no longer offer 
them any thing worth looking at. There were, in fact, in this 
caravan two persons, the one of sixteen and the other of 
twenty-two or twenty-three years old, who had thus made 
themselves blind. Hayauldoula told me also, that it was not 
at Mecca where pardons for sin were granted, but at Medina, 
where St. Abraham built a house that still remains ''^. The 
building is in the form of a cloister, of which pilgrims make 
the circuit. 

With regard to the town, it is seated on the sea-shore. 
Indians, the inhabitants of Prester John's country, bring 
thither, in large ships, spices and other productions of their 
country ; and thither the Mohammedans go to purchase them. 
They load them on camels, and other beasts of burden, for 
the m^arkets of Cairo, Damascus, and other places, as is well 
known. The distance from Mecca to Damascus is forty 
days' journey across the desert. The heat is excessive; and 
many of the caravan were suffocated. According to the rene- 
gade slave, the annual caravan to Medina should be composed 
of seven hundred thousand persons ; and when this number 
is incomplete, God sends his angels to make it up. At the 
great day of judgment Mohammed will admit into Paradise as 
many persons as he shall please, where they will enjoy honey, 
milk, and women at pleasure. As I was incessantly hearing 
Mohammed spoken of, I wished to know something about him ; 
and, for this purpose, I addressed myself to a priest in Damas- 
cus, attached to the Venetian consul, who often said mass in 

* Our traveller is mistaken. The tomb of Mohammed is at Medina, and 
not at Mecca : and the house of Abraham is at Mecca, and not Medina, 
where pilgrims gain pardons, and where that great commerce is carried on. 


his house, confessed the merchants of that nation, and, when 
necessary, regulated their affairs. Having confessed myself 
to him, and settled my worldly concerns, I asked him if he 
were acquainted with the doctrines of Mohammed. He said he 
was, and knew all the Alcoran. I then besought him, in the 
best manner I could, that he would put down in writing all 
he knew of him, that I might present it to my lord the duke 
of Burgundy. He did so with pleasure ; and I have brought 
with me his work. 

My intention was to go to Bursa -5^; and, in consequence, I 
was introduced to a Moor, who engaged to conduct me thither 
in the track of the caravan on paying him thirty ducats and 
his expenses ; but as I was advised to distrust the Moors, as 
people of bad faith and accustomed to break their promises, I 
did not conclude the bargain. I say this for the instruction 
of those who may have any concerns with them ; for I believe 
them to be such as they were described to me. Hayauldoula, 
on his part, procured me the acquaintance of some Caramanian 
merchants ; but I took another resolution. 

In regard to the pilgrims that go to Mecca, the grand Turk 
has a custom peculiar to himself — at least, I am ignorant if the 
other Mohammedan powers do the same — ^which is, that when 
the caravan leaves his states he chooses for it a chief, whom 
they are bound to obey as implicitly as himself. The chief of 
this caravan was called Hoyarbarach ; he was a native of Bursa, 
and one of its principal inhabitants. I caused myself to be 
presented to him, by mine host and another person, as a man 
that wanted to go to that town to see a brother. They 
entreated him to receive me in his company, and to afford 
me his security. He asked if I understood Arabic, Turkish, 
Hebrew, the vulgar tongue, or Greek ? When they replied 
that I did not, he answered, "Well, what can he pretend to 
do ? " However, representations were made to him that, on 
account of the war, I dared not go thither by sea ; and that, if 
he would condescend to admit me, I would do as well as I 
could. He then consented ; and, having placed his two hands 
on his head and touched his beard, he told me, in the Turkish 
language, that I might join his slaves ; but he insisted that I 
should be dressed just like them. 

I went, immediately after this interview, with one of my 

* Bnisa. 


friends, to the market, called the Bazaar, and bought two 
long white robes that reached to my ancles, a complete 
turban, a linen girdle, a fustian pair of drawers to tuck the 
ends of my robe in ; tw^o small bags, the one for my own use, 
the other to hang on my horse's head while feeding him with 
barley and straw ; a leathern spoon and salt ; a carpet to sleep 
on ; and, lastly, a paletot of a white skin, which I lined with 
linen cloth, and which was of service to me in the nights. I 
purchased also a white tarquais (a sort of quiver) complete, to 
which hung a sword and knives ; but as to the tarquais and 
sword, I could only buy them privately ; for if those who have 
the administration of justice had known of it, the seller and 
myself would have run great risks. 

The Damascus blades are the handsomest and best of all 
Syria ; and it is curious to observe their manner of burnishing 
them. This operation is performed before tempering; and 
they have, for this purpose, a small piece of wood, in which is 
fixed an iron, which they rub up and down the blade, and 
thus clear off all inequalities, as a plane does to wood. They 
then temper and polish it. This polish is so highly finished, 
that, when any one wants to arrange his turban, he uses his 
sword for a looking-glass. As to its temper, it is perfect; 
and I have nowhere seen swords that cut so excellently. 
There are made at Damascus, and in the adjoining country, 
mirrors of steel, that magnify objects like burning glasses. I 
have seen some that, when exposed to the sun, have reflected 
the heat so strongly as to set fire to a plank fifteen or sixteen 
feet distant. 

I bought a small horse that turned out very well. Before 
my departure I had him shod at Damascus ; and thence, as 
far as Bursa, which is near fifty days' journey, so well do they 
shoe their horses that I had nothing to do with liis feet, except- 
ing one of the fore ones, which was pricked by a nail, and made 
him lame for three weeks. The shoes are light, thin, length- 
ened towards the heel, and thinner there than at the toe. 
They are not turned up, and have but four nail holes, two on 
each side. The nails are square, with a thick and heavy head. 
When a shoe is wanted, and it is necessary to work it to make 
it fit the hoof, it is done cold, without ever putting it in the 
fire, which can readily be done because it is so thin. To pare 
the hoof they use a pruning knife, similar to what vine- 
dressers trim their vines with, both on this as well as on the 

A.D. 1432.] HOKSES IN THE EAST. .305 

other side of the sea. The horses of this country only walk 
and gallop : and, when purchased, those which have the best 
walk are preferred, as, in Europe, those which trot the best. 
They have wide nostrils, gallop well, and are excellent, costing 
little on the road ; for they eat only at night, and then but a 
small quantity of barley with chopped straw. They never 
drink but in the afternoon ; and their bridles are always left 
in their mouths, even when in the stable, like mules. When 
there they have the two hinder legs tied ; and they are all 
intermixed together, horses and mares. All are geldings, ex- 
cepting a few kept for stallions. Should you have any busi- 
ness with a rich man, and call on him, he will carry you, to 
speak with you, to his stables, which are, consequently, kept 
always very cool and very clean. We Europeans prefer a 
stone-horse of a good breed; but the Moors esteem only 
mares. In that country a great man is not ashamed to ride 
a mare with its foal running after the dam. I have seen 
some, exceedingly beautiful, sold as high as two or three 
hundred ducats. They are accustomed to keep their horses 
very low, and never to allow them to get fat. The men of 
fortune carry with them, when they ride, a small drum, which 
they use in battle, or in skirmishes, to rally their men. It is 
fastened to the pommel of their saddles, and they beat on it 
with a piece of flat leather. I also purchased one, with spurs, 
and vermilion coloured boots, which came up to my knees, 
according to the custom of the country. 

As a mark of my gratitude to Hoyarbarach, I went to offer 
him a pot of green ginger ; but he refused it, and it was by 
dint of prayers and entreaties that I prevailed on him to 
accept of it. I had no other pledge for my security than 
what I have mentioned; but I found him full of frank- 
ness and good will — more, perhaps, than I should have found- 
in many Christians. 

God, who had protected me in the accomplishment of this 
journey, brought me acquainted with a Jew of Caiffa, who^ 
spoke the Tartar and Italian languages ; and I requested him 
to assist me in putting down in writing the names of every 
thing I might have occasion to want for myself and my horse 
while on the road. On our arrival, the first day's journey, at 
Bailee, I drew out my paper to know how to ask for barley 
and chopped straw, which I wanted to give my horse. Ten 
or twelve Turks near me, observing my action, burst into 



laughter ; and, coming nearer to examine my paper, seemed 
as much surprised at our writing as we are with theirs. They 
took a liking to me, and made every effort to teach me to 
speak Turkish. They were never weary of making me often 
repeat the same thing, and pronounced it so many different 
ways that I could not fail to retain it ; so, when we separated, I 
knew how to call for every thing necessary for myself and horse. 

During the stay of the caravan at Damascus, I made a pil- 
grimage, about sixteen miles distant, to our Lady of Serdenay. 
To arrive there we traversed a mountain a full quarter of a 
mile in length, to which the gardens of Damascus extend. 
We then descended into a delightful valley, full of vineyards 
and gardens, with a handsome fountain of excellent water. 
Here, on a rock, has been erected a small castle, with a 
church of green monks, having a portrait of the Virgin 
painted on wood, whose head has been carried thither mira- 
culously, but in what manner I am ignorant. It is added 
that it always sweats, and that this sweat is an oil*. All I 
can say is, that when I went thither, I was shown, at the end 
of the church, behind the great altar, a niche formed in the 
wall, where I saw the image, which ivas a flat thing, and might 
be about one foot and a half high by one foot wdde. I cannot 
say whether it is of wood or stone, for it was entirely covered 
with clothes. The front was closed with an iron trellis, and 
underneath was the vase containing the oil. A woman ac- 
costed me, and with a silver spoon moved aside the clothes, 
and wanted to anoint me with the sign of the cross on the 
forehead, the temples, and breast. I believe this was a mere 
trick to get money ; nevertheless I do not mean to say that 
our Ijady may not have more power than this image. 

I returned to Damascus, and, on the evening of the de- 
parture of the caravan, settled my affairs and my conscience 
as if I had been at the point of death ; for suddenly I found 

* Many authors of tlie thirteenth century mention this Virgin of Serdenay, 
which was famous during the crusades ; and they speak of this oily sweat, 
that had the reputation of performing miracles. (See before, p. 190.) These 
fabulous accounts of miraculous sweatings were common in Asia. Among 
others, that which exuded from the tomb of the bishop Nicholas, one of 
those saints whose existence is more than doubtful, was much vaunted. This 
pretended liquor of Nicholas was even an object of adoration ; and we read 
that, in 1651, a clergyman at Paris, having received a phial of it, demanded 
and obtained permission from the archbishop to expose it to the veneration 
of the faithful.— Xe JScevf, " Hist, de Paris/' t. i. part 2, p. 557. 

A.D. 1432.] BALBECK. 307 

myself in great trouble. I have before mentioned tbe mes- 
senger whom the sultan had sent with orders to arrest all 
the Genoese and Catalonian merchants found within his do- 
minions. By virtue of this order my host, who w^as a Genoese, 
was arrested, his effects seized, and a Moor placed in his 
house to take care of them. I endeavoured to save all I 
could for him; and, that the Moor might not notice it, I 
made him drunk. I was arrested in my turn, and carried 
before one of their cadies, who are considered as somewhat 
like our bishops, and have the office of administering justice. 
This cadi turned me over to another cadi, who sent me to 
prison with the merchants, although he knew I was not one ; 
but this disagreeable affair had been brought on me by an 
interpreter, who wanted to extort money from me, as he had 
before attempted on my first journey hither. Had it not been 
for Antoine Mourrouzin, the Venetian consul, I must have 
paid a sum of money ; but I remained in prison ; and, in the 
mean time, the caravan set off. The consul, to obtain my 
liberty, was forced to make intercession, conjointly v/ith 
others, to the governor of Damascus, alleging that I had 
been arrested without cause, which the interpreter well knew. 
The governor sent for a Genoese, named Gentil Imperial, a 
merchant employed by the sultan to purchase slaves for him 
at Caiffa. He asked me w^ho I was, and my business at 
Damascus. On my replying that I was a Frenchman re- 
turning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he said they had 
done wrong to detain me, and that I might depart when I 

I set off on the morrow of the sixth of October, accom- 
panied by a moucre, whom I had first charged to carry my 
Turkish dress out of the town, because a Christian is not per- 
mitted to wear a white turban there. At a short distance a 
mountain rises, on which I was shown a house said to have 
been that of Cain. During the first day w^e travelled over 
mountains, but the road was good. On the second day we 
entered a fine country, which continued cheerful until we 
came to Balbeck. My moucre there quitted me, as I had 
overtaken the caravan. It was encamped near a river, on 
account of the great heat in these parts ; the nights are 
nevertheless very cold, which will scarcely be believed, and 
the dews exceedingly heavy. I waited on Hoyarbarach, who 
confirmed the permission he had granted me to accompany 

X 2 


liim, and recommended me not to quit tlie caravan. On 
the morrow morning, at eleven o'clock, I gave my horse water, 
with oats and straw, according to the custom of our countries. 
This tin^xC the Turks said nothing to me; but at six o'clock in 
the evening, when, having given him water, I was about 
fastening the bag, that he might eat, they opposed it and took 
off the bag ; for they never suffer their horses to eat but dur- 
ing the night, and will not allow one to begin eating before 
the rest, unless when they are at grass. 

The captain of the caravan had with him a mameluke of 
the sultan, who was a Circassian, and going to Caramania in 
search of a brother. This man, seeing me alone and ignorant 
of the language of the country, charitably wished to serve me 
as a companion, and took me with him ; but, as he had no 
tent, we were often obliged to pass the nights under trees in 
gardens. It Vv'as then that I was obliged to learn to sleep on 
the ground, to drink nothing but water, and to sit cross-legged. 
This posture was at first painful, but it was still more so to 
accustom myself to sit on my horse with such very short stir- 
rups, — and I suffered so much that, when I had dismounted, 
I could not remount without assistance, so sore were my 
hams ; but after a little time this manner seemed even more 
convenient than ours. That same evening I supped with the 
mameluke ; but we had only bread, cheese, and milk. I had, 
when eating, a table-cloth, like the rich men of the country. 
These cloths are four feet in diameter, and round, having 
strings attached to them, so that they may be drawn up like a 
purse. When they are used they are spread out ; and, when 
the meal is over, they are drawn up with all that remains 
within them, without their losing a crumb of bread or a raisin. 
But I observed that, whether their repast had been good or 
bad, they never failed to return thanks aloud to God. 

Balbeck is a good town, well inclosed with walls, and tole- 
rably commercial. In the centre is a castle, built with very 
large stones. At present it contains a mosque, in which, it 
is said, there is a human skull, with eyes so enormous that a 
man may pass his head through their openings. I cannot 
affirm this for fact, as none but Saracens may enter the 

Prom Balbeck we went to Hamos*, and encamped on the 

* Hoins. or Kems, the ancient Emessa. 

A.D. 1432.] BALBECK. 309 

banks of a river. It was there I observed their manner of 
encamping and pitching their tents. The tents are neither 
very high nor very large, so that one man can pitch them, and 
six persons may with ease repose in them during the heat. 
In the course of the day they lay open the lower parts, to give 
passage to the air, and close them in the night time. One 
camel can carry seven or eight with thin poles ; some of them 
are very handsome. As my companion, the mameluke, and 
myself, had no tent, we fixed our quarters in a garden. There 
w^e w^ere joined by two Turcomans of Satalia, returning from 
Mecca, who supped with us. These men, seeing me well 
clothed and well mounted, having a handsome sword, and 
well furnished tarquais, proposed to the mameluke, as he 
afterwards owned when we separated, to make away with me, 
considering that I was but a Christian, and unworthy of being 
in their company. He answered that, since I had eaten 
bread and salt with them, it would be a great crime ; that it was. 
forbidden by their law ; and that, after all, God had created 
the Christians as well as the Saracens. They, however, per- 
sisted in their design ; and as I testified a desire of seeing 
Aleppo, the most considerable town in Syria after Damascus, 
they pressed me to join them. I was ignorant of their inten- 
tion, and accepted their offer; but I am now convinced they 
only wanted to cut my throat. The mameluke forbade them 
to come any more near us, and by this means saved my life. 

We set out from Balbeck two hours before day; and our 
caravan consisted of from four to five hundred persons, with 
six or seven hundred camels and mules ; for it had great 
quantities of spicery. I will describe the order of its march. 
The caravan has a very large drum; and the moment the 
chief orders the departure, three loud strokes are beaten. 
Every one then makes himself ready, and, when prepared, 
joins the file without uttering a word. Ten of our people 
would, in such cases, make more noise than a thousand of 
theirs. Thus they march in silence, unless it be at night, or 
that any one should sing a song celebrating the heroic deeds 
of their ancestors. At the break of day, two or three placed 
at a great distance from each other cry out, and answer one 
another, as is done from the towers of the mosques at the 
usual hours. In short, a little before and after sun-rise, 
devout people make their customary prayers and oblations. 
To perform these oblations, if they be near a rivulet they dis- 


mount, and, with feet naked, they wash their whole bodies. 
Should there be no rivulet near, at the usual time for these 
ceremonies they pass their hands over their bodies. The last 
among them washes his mouth and the opposite part, and 
then turns to the south, when all raise two fingers in the air, 
prostrate themselves, and kiss the ground thrice ; they then 
rise up and say their prayers. They have been ordered to 
practise these ablutions instead of confessions. Persons of 
rank, to avoid failing in their performance, always carry, when 
they travel, leathern bottles full of water, which are sus- 
pended under the bellies of camels or horses, and are gene- 
rally very handsome. 

Hamos (Hems) is a good town, well inclosed with walls and 
ditches " en glacis," situated in a plain on the banks of a 
small river. Here terminates one end of the plain of Noah^', 
which is said to extend as far as Persia. Tamerlane made 
his irruption through this plain when he took and destroyed 
so many cities. At the extremity of the town is a handsome 
castle, constructed on a height, with glaces as far as the 

From Hems, w^e i7ent to Hamaf . The country is fine, but 
I saw few inhabitants excepting Arabs, who were rebuilding 
some of the ruined villages. In Hamal met with a merchant 
from Venice, named Laurent Souranze. He received me 
well, lodged me in his house, and showed me the town and 
castle. It has good tow^ers, with strong and thick walls, 
built, like the castle of Provins, on a rock, in which deep 
ditches have been cut. At one end of the town is the castle, 
strongly and well built on an elevation, which is fortified by 
ditches, and surmounted by a citadel which commands the 
whole ; and the sides are washed by a river, said to be one of 
the four that flowed out of Paradise J. I know not if this be 
the fact or not; all that I know is, that it runs east-south-east, 
and loses itself near Antioch. Here is the greatest wheel § 
I ever saw. It is put in motion by the river, and supplies 
the inhabitants, although numerous, with the necessary quan- 
tity of water. The water falls into a trough cut in the castle- 
rock, and thence is conducted to the town, where it flows 

■^ This plain is the ancient Coelo-Syria. 

•}'- Hamath of Scripture^ the Epiphania of the Greeks. 

J The El Asi, or Orontes. 

§ These wheels are still common on the Orontes. 


through the streets in an aqueduct formed on great square 
pillars twelve feet high and two wide. I was in want of 
several things to be like my fellow-travellers, of which the 
mameluke haviog informed me, my host Laurent carried me 
himself to the bazaar to purchase. The things wanted were 
small silken bonnets, in the fashion of the Turcomans, a cap 
to wear under them, Turkish spoons, knives with their steel, 
a comb and case, and a leathern cup, all of which are sus- 
pended to the sword. I likewise bought some finger-stalls to 
draw the bow, another complete tarquais, to save the one I 
had, which was very handsome, and lastly, a capinat, which 
is a robe of fine white felt, impenetrable to the rain. 

On the road I made acquaintance with some of my fellow- 
travellers, who, when they found out that I lodged with a 
Frank, came to ask me to procure them some wine. This 
liquor is forbidden them by their religion, and they dare not 
drink it before their own countrymen ; but they hoped to do 
it without risk at the house of a Frank, and yet they were 
returning from Mecca ! I spoke of it to my host Laurent, 
but he said he was afraid to comply, from the great dangers 
he should run were it known. I went to carry them this 
answer, but they had been more fortunate elsewhere, in pro- 
curing some at the house of a Greek. They proposed that 
I should accompany them to partake, either from pure 
friendship, or to authorize them to drink wine in the presence 
of the Greek. This man conducted us to a small gallery, 
where w^e all six seated ourselves in a circle on the floor. He 
first placed in the midst of us a large and handsome earthen 
jug, that might contain four gallons at least ; he then brought 
for each of us a pot full of wine, which he poured into the 
jug, and placed beside it two earthen porringers to serve for 
glasses. The first who began drank to his companion, ac- 
cording to their custom ; this did the same to the next, and 
so on the others. We drank in this manner for a long time 
without eating ; at length, I perceived that I could no longer 
continue it without suffering, and begged of them, with up- 
lifted hands, to permit me to leave off; but they grew very 
angry, and complained as if I had been resolved to interrupt 
their pleasure and do them an injury. Fortunately there was 
^ne among them more acquainted with me than the rest, and 
who loved me so that he called me kardays, that is to say, 
brother. He offered to take my place, and to drink for me 


when it should be my turn. This appeased them, and, having 
accepted the offer, the party continued until evening, when it 
was necessary for us to return to the khan. 

The captain of the caravan was at the moment seated on 
a bench of stone, and had before him a lighted torch. It was 
not difficult for him to guess whence we came, and, conse- 
quently, four of our companions slipped away, and one only 
remained with me. I mention all this to forewarn any per- 
sons that may travel through these countries to avoid drinking 
with the natives, unless they shall wish to swallow so much 
as will make them fall to the ground. The mameluke, who 
was ignorant of my debauch, had, during that time, bought a 
goose for us both. He had just boiled it, and for want of 
verjuice, had dressed it with the green leaves of the leek; I 
ate of it with him, and it lasted us for three days. 

I should have liked to see Aleppo, but the caravan taking 
the strait road to x\ntioch, I was forced to give up all thoughts 
of it. As the caravan was not to set out for two days, the 
mameluke proposed that we should ride forward, the more 
easily to procure lodgings. Four Turkish merchants desired 
to be of our party, and we six travelled together. Half a 
league from Hama, we came to the river, and crossed it by a 
bridge. It had overflowed, although there had not been any 
rain. Here I wished to give my horse some water, but as the 
bank was steep and the river deep, had not the mameluke 
come to my aid I must inevitably have been drowned. On 
the opposite side of the river is a long and vast plain, where 
we met six or eight Turcomans, accompanied by a woman. 
She wore a tarquais like them, and, on inquiring into this, I 
was told that the women of this nation are brave, and in time 
of war fight like men. It was added, and this seemed to me 
very extraordinary, that there are about thirty thousand women 
who thus bear the tarquais, and are under the dominion of a 
lord, named Turcgadiroly*, who resides among the mountains 
of Armenia, on the frontiers of Persia. 

The second day's journey was through a mountainous coun- 
try, tolerably fertile though ill watered, but we saw nothing 
but ruined houses. As we travelled, my mameluke taught 
me to shoot with the bow, and made me buy finger-stalls and 
rings for this purpose. At length we arrived at a village that 

* Tur-Kadir-Oglu. 

A.D. 1432.] TURCOMANIA. 313 

was rich in woods, vineyards, and corn-fields, but having no 
other water than what was in cisterns. This district seemed 
to have been formerly inhabited by Christians, and I own it 
gave me great pleasure when I was told that it had all 
belonged to Franks, and the ruins of churches were shown me 
as a proof of it. We fixed our quarters in this village, and it 
was then I first saw the habitations of the Turcomans, and 
women of that nation with uncovered faces. They commonly 
hide them under a piece of black tammy, to which those who 
are wealthy attach pieces of money and precious stones. The 
men are good archers. I saw several draw the bow, which 
they do sitting, and at a short distance; and this gives to 
their arrows great rapidity and strength. 

On leaving Syria, we entered Turcomania, called by us 
Armenia. The capital is a very considerable town, named 
Antequaye (Antakiyah) by them, and by us Antioch. It was 
very flourishing in former times, and has still handsome walls 
in good repair, which inclose a large tract of ground, and even 
some mountains ; but its houses are not more than three 
hundred in number. It is bounded on the south by a 
mountain, on the north by a great lake, beyond which is an 
open and fine country. The river that comes from Hama 
runs alongside the walls. Almost all the inhabitants are 
Turcomans or Arabs, and their profession is breeding cattle, 
such as camels, goats, cows, and sheep. The goats are, for 
the most part, white, and the handsomest I have ever seen, 
not having, like those of Syria, hanging ears ; and their hair 
is soft, of some length, and curling. Their sheep have thick 
and broad tails. They also feed wild asses, which they tame ; 
these much resemble stags in their hair, ears, and head, and 
have, like them, cloven feet. I know not if they have the 
same cry, for I never heard them. They are large, hand- 
some, and go with other beasts, but I have never seen them 
mounted*. For the carriage of merchandise they use the 
buffalo and ox, as we do the horse. They also use them to 
ride on ; and I have seen large herds, some carrying goods, 
and others men. 

The lord of this country was Ramedan, a rich, powerful, and 
brave prince. For some time he was so redoubtable that the 

* It is not very easy to identify this animal by La Brocquiere's descrip- 
tion ; if he had not described it as " large/' we might have supposed it to be 
a gazelle. 


sultan was alarmed, and afraid to anger him ; but, wishing to 
destroy him, he practised with the karman'-!', who could more 
easily deceive Ramedan than any other, having given him 
his sister in marriage. In consequence, one day, as they were 
eating together, the karman arrested him and delivered him 
to the sultan, who put him to death, and took possession of 
Turcomania, giving, however, a portion of it to the karman. 
On leaving Antioch, I continued my road with the mameluke, 
and we first crossed a mountain called Negref, on which he 
pointed out to me three or four handsome castles in ruins, 
that had belonged to the Christians. The road is good, and 
incessantly perfumed by the number of laurels with which the 
country abounds ; but the descent is twice as rapid as the 
ascent. It finishes at the gulf of Asacs:[, which we call 
Layaste, because, in fact, it takes its name from the town of 
Ayas. This gulf extends between two mountains inland for 
upwards of fifteen miles; its breadth maybe about twelve, but 
I refer for this to the sea charts. 

At the foot of the mountain, near the road and close to the 
sea-shore, are the ruins of a strong castle §, defended on the 
land side by a marsh, so that it could only be approached by 
sea, or by a narrow causeway across the marsh. It was in- 
habited, but the Turcomans had posted themselves hard by. 
They occupied one hundred and twenty tents, some of felt, 
others of white and blue cotton, all very handsome, and 
capable of containing, with ease, from fifteen to sixteen per- 
sons. These are their houses, and, as we do in ours, they 
perform in them all their household business, except making 
fires. We halted among them ; they placed before us one of 
the table-cloths before-mentioned, in which there remained 
fragments of bread, cheese, and grapes. They then brought 
us a dozen of thin cakes of bread, with a large jug of curdled 
milk, called by them yogort||. The cakes are a foot broad, 
round, and thinner than wafers ; they fold them up as grocers 
do their papers for spices, and eat them filled with the 
curdled milk. A league further is a caravansera, where we 
lodged. These establishments consist of houses like the 
khans of Syria. 

* Karaman-oglu, tlie Seljukian prince of Karamania. 

f Ananus, now the Giaour Tagh. J The Gulf of Ayas, the ancient Mgse, 

§ Probably the one known as Godfrey do Bouillon's castle. 

II Pronounced yuyurt. 

A.D. 1432.] THE TUECOMANS. 315 

In the course of this day's journey, I overtook on the road 
an Armenian, who spoke a little Italian. Finding I was a 
Christian, he entered into conversation with me, and told me 
many things of the country, its inhabitants, and likewise of 
the sultan, and Kamedan, lord of Turcomania, w^hom I have 
already mentioned. He said that this last was of a large 
size, very brave, and the most expert of all the Turks in 
handling a battle-axe and sword. His mother was a Christian, 
and had caused him to be baptized according to the Greek 
ritual, to take from him the smell and odour of those who are 
not baptized ^^. But he w^as neither a good Christian nor a 
good Saracen; and w^hen they spoke to him of the two 
prophets, Jesus and Mohammed, he said, "For my part, lam 
for the living prophets ; they will be more useful to me than 
dead ones." His territories on one side joined those of the 
karman, whose sister he had married, and on the other 
reached to Syria, which belonged to the sultan. Every time 
the subjects of the latter passed through his country he ex- 
acted tolls from them. But at length the sultan prevailed on 
the karman, as I have said before, to betray his brother-in- 
law to him ; and at this moment he possesses all Turcomania 
as far as Tharsis, and even one day's journey further. 

That day, accompanied by the Armenian, we once more 
lodged with the Turcomans, who again served us with milk. 
It was here I saw w^omen make those thin cakes I spoke of. 
This is their manner of making them; they have a small 
round table, very smooth, on which they throw some flour, and 
mix it with water to a paste, softer than that for bread. This 
paste they divide into round pieces, which they flatten as 
much as possible, with a wooden roller of a smaller diameter 
than an egg, until they make them as thin as I have men- 
tioned. During this operation they have a convex plate of 
iron placed on a tripod, and heated by a gentle fire under- 
neath, on which they spread the cake and instantly turn it, 
so that they make two of their cakes sooner than a waferman 
can make one wafer. 

I was two days traversing the country round the gulf. It 
is handsome, and had formerly many castles belonging to 

* The Christians of Asia believed implicitly that the infidels had a dis- 
agreeable smell which was peculiar to them, and which baptism took away. 
This superstition will be again noticed. The baptism was, according to the 
Greek ritual, by immersion. 


Christians, at present destroyed. Such was the one seen to 
the eastward before we arrived at Ayas. The inhabitants are 
Turcomans, who are a handsome race, excellent archers, and 
living on little. Their dwellings are round, like pavilions, 
covered with felt. They live in the open plain, and have a 
chief whom they obey ; but they frequently change their situ- 
tion, when they carry their houses with them. In this case, 
they are accustomed to submit themselves to the lord on whose 
lands they fix, and even to assist him with their arms, should 
he be at war. But should they quit his domains, and pass 
over to those of his enemy, they serve him in his turn against 
the other; and they are not thought the worse of for this, as 
it is their custom, and they are wanderers. On my road, I 
met one of their chiefs hawking with falcons, with which he 
took tame geese. I was told that he might have under his 
command ten thousand Turcomans. The country is favour- 
able to the chase, but intersected by many small rivers that 
fall into the gulf. Wild boars are here abundant. 

About the centre of the gulf is a defile formed by a rock-:', 
under which the road passes ; it is not two bow-shots from the 
sea; and this passage was formerly defended by a castle, 
which made it very strong, but it is now in ruins. 

On leaving this strait, we entered a fine extensive plain f, 
inhabited by Turcomans ; my companion, the Armenian, 
pointed out to me a castle on a mountain J: where were only- 
people of his nation, and the walls of which were washed by 
a river called Jehon§. We travelled along the banks of this 
river to a town called Misse on the Jehon||, because it runs 
through it. 

Misse, situated four days' journey from Antioch, belonged 
to the Christians, and was a considerable city. Many churches, 
half destroyed, still remain H; the choir of the great church 
is yet entire, but converted into a mosque. The bridge is of 
wood, the former stone one having been carried away by the 
floods -I'^i'. One half of the town is completely in ruins; the 

* Kara-Kapu^ or Temir-Kapu, '^ the Iron Gates/' the ancient Pylse Ama- 

+ The Campus Aleius of the ancients, now Tchukur Ovah. 

% Sis, or perhaps Anazarbe. § Now called Jeihun. 

II Missisah, on the Jeihun. 

"U The churches have now entirely disappeared. 

** This bridge is at present constructed of stone. 

A.D. 1432.] EASTERN BATHS. 317 

Other half has preserved its walls, and about three hundred 
houses, filled with Turcomans. 

From Misse to Adena"^' the country continues level and 
good, inhabited by Turcomans. Adena is two days' journey 
from Misse, and I there proposed to wait for the caravan. It 
arrived; I went with the mameluke, together with some 
others, many of whom were great merchants, to lodge near 
the bridge, between the river and the walls of the town ; and 
it was there I observed the manner of the Turks saying their 
prayers and offering sacrifice. They no way hid themselves 
from my notice, but on the contrary seemed well pleased when 
I said my paternoster, which seemed to them wonderful. I 
sometimes heard them chaunt their prayers at the beginning 
of the night, when they seat themselves in a circle, and shake 
their bodies and heads while they sing in a very uncouth 
manner. One day they carried me with them to the stoves and 
baths of the town; and as I refused to bathe, for I must have 
undressed myself, and was afraid of showing my money, they 
gave me their clothes to keep. From this moment we were 
much connected. The bath-house is very high, and termi- 
nated by a dome, in which a circular opening is contrived to 
light the whole interior. The stoves and baths are hand- 
some, and very clean. When the bathers come out of the 
water, they seat themselves on small hurdles of thin osiers, 
dry themselves, and comb their beards. It was at Adena I 
first saw the two young men who had got their eyes thrust 
out at Mecca, after having seen the tomb of Mohammed. 

The Turks bear well fatigue and a hard life ; they are not 
incommoded, as I have witnessed, during the whole journey, 
by sleeping on the ground like animals. They are of a gay, 
cheerful humour, and willingly sing songs of the heroic deeds 
of their ancestors. Any one, therefore, who wishes to live 
with them must not be grave or melancholy, but always have 
a smiling countenance. They are also men of probity, and 
charitable toward each other. I have often observed, that 
should a poor person pass by when they are eating, they 
would invite him to partake of their meal, which is a thing 
\ye never do. 

In many places I found they did not bake their bread half 
as much as ours. It is soft, and, unless a person be accus- 

* Adanah. 


tomed to it, is difficult to be chewed. In regard to meat, 
they eat it raw, dried in the sun. When any of their beasts, 
horse or camel, is so dangerously ill that no hopes remain of 
saving its life, they cut its throat, and eat it, not raw, but a 
little dressed. They are very clean in dressing their meat, 
but eat it dirtily. They in like manner keep their beards 
very neat and clean, but never w^ash their hands but when 
they bathe, when they are about to say their prayers, or when 
they wash their beards and hinder parts. 

Adena is a tolerably good commercial town, well inclosed 
with walls, situated in a fine country, and sufficiently near the 
sea. The river of Adena ^', which is wide, and rises among 
the high mountains of Armenia, flows beneath its walls. It 
has over it a long bridge, and the broadest I ever saw. Its 
inhabitants and prince are Turcomans; the prince is brother 
to the brave Ramedan, whom the sultan had murdered. I 
was told the sultan had his son in his power, but dared not 
suffer him to return into Turcomania. 

From Adena I went to Thurof, which we call Tharsis. 
The country continues good, though near the mountains, and 
is inhabited by Turcomans, who live in villages or in tents. 
The district around Tharsis abounds in corn, wine, wood, and 
w^ater. It was a famous town, and very ancient buildings are 
still seen in it. I believe this was the town J besieged by 
Baldwin, brother to Godfrey of Bouillon. At present it has 
a governor appointed by the sultan, and many Moors live 
within it. It is defended by a castle with ditches a glacis, 
and by a double wall, which in some parts is triple. A small 
river § runs through it, and there is another at a short dis 
tance. I found there a Cypriot merchant, named Antony, 
who had resided in this country a longtime, and knew the lan- 
guage well. He talked to me very pertinently about it ; but he 
did me another favour, that of giving me some good wine, for 
I had not tasted any for several days. Tharsis is but sixty 
miles from Curco||, a castle built on the sea-shore, belonging 
to the king of Cyprus. In this whole country they speak the 
Turkish tongue, which begins even to be spoken at Antioch, 
the capital, as I have before said, of Turcomania. It is a very 
fine language, laconic, and easily learned. 

* The Seihun, the ancient Surus. f Tarsus. 

Z La Brocquiere is right in his conjecture. § The ancient Cydnus* 
11 Kurkuss, the ancient Corycvts. 


As we had to cross the high mountains of Armenia, Hoyar- 
barach, the chief of our caravan, would have it all assembled; 
and for this purpose he waited some days, for those in the 
rear to come up. At last we departed, on the eve of All- 
Souls '-Day. The mameluke advised me to lay in provision 
for four days. I consequently purchased a sufficiency of bread 
and cheese for myself, and of oats and barley for my horse. 
On quitting Tharsis, we travelled three French leagues over 
a fine champaign country, peopled with Turcomans ; and then 
we entered on the mountains, which are the highest I have 
ever seen. They skirt on three sides the country I had tra- 
velled over from Antioch ; the sea bounds the other on the 
south. We first passed through woods during a whole day, 
but the road is not bad. We lodged in the evening at a nar- 
row pass, where there seemed to have been formerly a castle. 
The second day's journey was not at all disagreeable, and we 
passed the night at a caravansera. The third, we followed 
the banks of a small river, and saw on the mountains an in- 
numerable quantity of speckled partridges. In the evening, 
we halted on a plain, about a league in length and a quarter 
wide, where four great valleys meet : the one by which we 
had come ; another that runs northward, towards the country 
of the lord called Turcgadirony, and towards Persia; the 
third runs eastw^ard, and I know not whether this also does 
not lead to Persia; the last extends to the westward, and it is 
that which I followed, and which conducted me to the country 
of the karman Each of these four has a river, and the four 
rivers run to this last country. 

It snowed much during the night. To save my horse from 
the weather, I covered him with my capinat, the felt robe 
which I used for a cloak; but I myself caught cold, and got 
that disagreeable disorder a dysentery. Had it not been for 
my mameluke, I should have been in great danger ; but he 
assisted me, and made me instantly quit the place in which I 
was. We both, therefore, set off very early, and ascended the 
high mountains where the castle of Cublech - is situated, and is 
the highest I am acquainted with. It is seen two days' journey 
off ; but sometimes we turned our backs to it, by reason of the 
windings of the mountains, sometimes also we lost sight of 
it, as it was hidden by their height. No one can penetrate 
into the country of the karman but on foot over the moun- 
* Kiilek Boghaz. 


tain on which this castle is built. The pass is narrow, and 
in some places has been perforated by the chisel, but it is 
every where commanded by Cublech. This castle, the last 
which the Armenians lost, belongs at this day to the karman, 
•who had it in his division after the death of Ramedan. These 
mountains are covered with perpetual snow, having only a 
road for horses, although there are some plains scattered 
among them. They are dangerous on account of the Turco- 
mans who inhabit them ; but during the four days I was tra- 
velling among them I never perceived a single dwelling. 

On leaving the mountains of Armenia, to enter the country 
of the karman, there are still others to be crossed. On one 
of them is a pass, having a castle called Leve, where a toll is 
paid to the karman. This toll was farmed to a Greek, who, 
on seeing me, judged from my features that I was a Christian, 
and stopped me. If I had been forced to return I should 
have been a dead man, for I w^as afterwards assured, that be- 
fore I had gone half a league my throat would have been cut, 
for the caravan was at a great distance. Fortunately my 
mameluke bribed the Greek, and, in consideration of two 
ducats that I gave him, he opened the passage. Further on 
is the castle of Asers, and beyond that the castle of a tow^n 
called Araclie (Eregli). 

On descending the mountain, we entered a plain as level 
as the sea; then are seen some heights towards the north, 
which, scattered here and there, appear like so many islands 
in the midst of the waves. It is on this plain that Eregli is 
situated, a town formerly inclosed, but now^ in the greatest 
state of ruin. I found there, however, some provision; for 
my last four days' journey from Tharsis had afforded me no- 
thing but water. The environs of the town are covered with 
villages, inhabited chiefly by Turcomans. 

On quitting Eregli, we met two gentlemen of the country, 
who appeared to be men of distinction; they showed great 
friendship to the mameluke, and carried him to regale at an 
adjoining village, the dwellings of w^hich are cut out of the 
rock. We passed the night there, but I was forced to stay 
the remainder of the time in a cavern, to take care of our 
horses. "When the mameluke returned, he told me that these 
two men had asked who I was, and that in his answer he had 
misled them, by saying I was a Circassian, who could not 
speak Arabic. 

A.D. 1432.] LARANDE. 821 

From Eregli to Larande-i^, whither our route lay, is two 
days' journey. This town, though not inclosed, is large, com- 
mercial, and well situated. There was, in ancient times, a 
great and strong castle in the centre of the town, the gates 
of which are now visible ; they are of iron, and very hand- 
some, but the walls are destroyed. There is a fine plain be- 
tween these two towns ; and after I left Leve I did not notice 
a single tree in the open country. There were in Larande 
two Cypriot gentlemen, the one named Lyachin Castrico, the 
other Leon Maschero, who both spoke very tolerable French f. 
They inquired of me my country, and what had brought me 
thither : I replied that I was a servant of my lord of Bur- 
gundy, that I came from Jerusalem to Damascus, and was fol- 
lowing the caravan. They appeared astonished that I had 
been suffered to pass ; but when they had asked wiiither I was 
going, and I had answered that I was on my return overland 
through France to my aforesaid lord, they told me it was 
impossible to be done, and that if I had a thousand lives I 
should lose them all ; they therefore proposed that I should 
return to Cyprus with them ; for there were at that island two 
galleys that had come thither to convey back the daughter of 
the king, who had been betrothed in marriage to the son of 
my lord of Savoy t ; and they doubted not but the king, from 
the love and respect he bore to the duke of Burgundy, would 
grant me a passage on board one of them. I replied, that, 
since God had graciously permitted that I should arrive at 
Larande, he w^ould probably allow me to go further ; but that, 
at all events, I was determined to finish my journey as I had 
begun it, or die in the attempt. I asked them, in my turn, 
whither they were going. They said their king was just dead; 
that during his life there had always been a truce with the 
grand karman, and that the young king and his council had 
sent them to renew this alliance. Being curious to make 

* Karaman. 

+ The Lusignans, when kings of Cyprus, towards the end of the twelfth 
century, had introduced the French language into that island. It was at 
Cyprus, when St. Louis put in there on his crusade to Egypt, that the code 
called "the Assizes of Jerusalem" was drawn up and published, and which 
became the code of laws for the Cypriots. The French language continued 
long to be that of the court and of well educated persons. 

J Louis, son to Amadous VIII., duke of Savoy. He married, in 1432, 
Anne de Lusignan, daughter to John II., king of Cyprus, deceased in the 
month of June, and sister to John III., then on the throne. 



acquaintance with this great prince, whom his nation reve- 
rences as we do our king, I entreated permission to accom- 
pany them, to which they consented. I met hkewise with 
another Cypriot at Larande, called Perrin Passerot, a mer- 
chant, who had resided some time in the country. He was 
from Famagusta, and had been banished from that town, be- 
cause he and one of his brothers had attempted to deliver it 
■up to the king, as it was then in the hands of the Genoese. 

My mameluke also met with five or six of his countrymen, 
young Circassian slaves, who were on their way to the resi- 
dence of the sultan. He w^as desirous to regale them on 
their meeting ; and, as he had heard there were Christians at 
Larande, he guessed they would not be without wine, and 
begged of me to procure him some. By dint of inquiry, and 
for half a ducat, I was enabled to purchase the half of a 
goatskin full, of which I made him a present. He showed 
great joy on receiving it, and instantly went to his com- 
panions, with whom he passed the whole night drinking. He 
himself swallowed so much, that on the morrow he was near 
dying on the road, but he cured himself by a method which is 
peculiar to them. In such cases, they have a very large bottle 
full of water, and as their stomach becomes empty, they drink 
water as long as they are able, as if they would rinse a bottle, 
which they throw up, and then drink of it again. He was 
thus employed on the road until mid-day, when he was perfectly 

From Larande we went to Qulongue, called by the Greeks 
Quhonguopoly^. These places are two days' journey distant 
from each other. The country is fine, and well furnished 
with villages, but wants water, and has no trees but such as 
have been planted near houses for their fruit, nor any other 
river but that which runs near the town. This town is con- 
siderable and commercial, defended by ditches en glacis, and 
good walls strengthened with towers, and is the best the kar- 
man possesses. There remains a small castle : formerly there 
was a very strong one in the centre of the town, but it has 
been pulled down to furnish materials to build the prince's 

I staid there four days, that the am.bassador from Cyprus 

* *' The copyist has written it further on Quohongiie and Quhongue. I 
shall write it henceforward Couhongue''' (The translator.) It is Koniyeh, 
the low Greek Koniopolis, the ancient Iconium, 

A.D. 1432.] THE KARMAN. 323 

and the caravan might have time to arrive. When the am 
bassador came, I asked him when he intended to wait on the 
karman, and repeated my request to be present, which he pro- 
mised to grant. There were, however, among his slaves four 
Greek renegadoes, one of whom was his usher-at-arms, who 
united in their efforts to dissuade him from it ; but he replied 
that he saw no inconvenience, and besides, that I had shown 
such eagerness to witness the ceremony, that he should take 
pleasure in obliging me. He was apprized of the hour when 
he might make his obeisance to the prince, inform him of the 
object of his mission, and offer his presents ; for it is an 
established custom in the east never to appear before a supe- 
rior without bringing presents. His were six pieces of camlet 
of Cyprus, I know not how many ells of scarlet, forty sugar 
loaves, a peregrine falcon, two cross-bows, and a dozen of 
bolts. Some genets were sent him to carry the presents ; 
and he and his attendants were mounted on horses, which 
the great lords, who had come to the palace to attend the 
prince during this ceremony, had left at the gate. The am- 
bassador made use of one of them, but dismounted at the 
entrance of the palace, when we were ushered into a large 
hall where there might be about three hundred persons. The 
prince occupied the adjoining apartment, around which were 
arranged thirty slaves, standing ; he was himself in a corner, 
seated on a carpet on the ground, according to the custom of 
the country, clad in a crimson and gold cloth, with his elbow 
leaning on a cushion of another sort of cloth of gold. Near 
him was his sword, his chancellor standing in front, and, at a 
little distance, three men seated. 

The presents were first laid before him, which he scarcely 
deigned to look at ; then the ambassador entered, attended 
by an interpreter, because he did not understand the Turkish 
language. After the usual reverences, the chancellor de- 
manded his credential letters, which he read aloud. The 
ambassador then addressed the king by means of his inter- 
preter, and said that the king of Cyprus had sent him to 
salute him, and to request that he would accept the presents 
now before him, as a mark of his friendship. The prince 
made no answer, but caused him to be seated on the ground 
after their manner, below the three persons before mentioned, 
and at some distance from the prince. He now inquired 
after the health of his brother the king of Cyprus, and was 

Y 2 


told that he had lost his father, and had commissioned him 
to renew the alliance that had subsisted between the two 
countries during the lifetime of the deceased, for which he 
was very anxious. The prince answered that he desired it 
as earnestly. He then questioned the ambassador when the 
late king died, the age of his successor, if he were prudent, 
if his country was obedient ; and, as the answer to these last 
questions was ' Yes,' he seemed well pleased. 

After these words, the ambassador was told to rise, which 
he did, and took leave of the prince, who did not move more 
at his departure than at his entrance. On leaving the palace, 
he found the same horses which had carried him thither; 
and, having mounted one of them, he was reconducted to his 
lodgings : but he was scarcely entered, when the ushers of 
arms presented themselves, for in these ceremonies it is 
customary to give them money, and the ambassador did not 
neglect it. He next went to pay his compliments to the son 
of the prince, to offer him presents and deliver his letters. 
He was seated like his father, with three persons near him ; 
but when the ambassador made his reverence, he rose up, 
then reseated himself, and placed the ambassador above these 
three personages. As for us, who accompanied him, they 
placed us far behind. Having, noticed a bench, I was about 
to seat myself on it without any ceremony ; but I was pulled 
off, and made to bend my knees and crouch on the ground 
like the rest. On our return home, an usher of arms to the 
son visited us, as those of the father had done, who also 
received some money. These people, however, are satisfied 
with a little. The prince and his son, in their turn, sent the 
ambassador a present for his expenses, which is likewise one 
of their customs. The first sent fifty aspres, the second 
thirty. An aspre is the money of the country, and fifty are 
equal in value to a Venetian ducat. 

T saw the prince go through the town in procession on a 
Friday, which is a holiday with them, when he was going to 
say his prayers. His guards were about fifty horsemen, the 
greater part his slaves, and about thirty infantry, who sur- 
rounded him. He bore a sword in his belt, and had a tabol- 
can at the pommel of his saddle, according to the custom of 
the country. He and his son have been baptized in the 
Greek manner, to take off the had smell ; and I was told that 
the son's mother was a Christian. It is thus all the grandees 

A.D. 1432.] THE KAEMAN. 325 

get themselves baptized, that they may not stink. His terri- 
tories are considerable : they begin one day's journey on this 
side Tharsis, and extend to the country of ximurath Bey ^^^ 
the other karman I spoke of, and whom we call the Grand 
Turk. In this line they are, as it is said, twenty leagues in 
breadth ; but they are sixteen days' journey in length, as I 
know well from having travelled them. They extend, as 
they assured me, on the north-east, as far as the frontiers of 
Persia. The karman possesses also a maritime coast, called 
the Farsats. It extends from Tharsis to Courco, which 
belongs to the king of Cyprus, and to a port called Zabari. 
This district produces the most expert sailors known, but 
they have revolted against him. 

The karman is a handsome prince, about thirty-two years 
old, and married to a sister of Amurath Bey. He is well 
obeyed by his subjects, although I have heard people say he 
was very cruel, and that few* days passed without some noses, 
feet, or hands being cut off, or some one put to death. 
Should any man be rich, he condemns him to die, that he 
may seize his fortune ; and it is said that the greater part of 
his nobles have thus perished. Eight days before my arrival 
he had caused one to be torn to pieces by dogs. Two days 
after this execution he had caused one of his wives to be put 
to death, even the mother of his eldest son, who, when I saw 
him, knew nothing of this murder. The inhabitants of the 
country are a bad race — thieves, cheats, and great assassins ; 
they kill each other, and justice is so relaxed that they are 
never arrested for it. 

I found at Couhongue Antoine Passerot, brother to Perrin 
Passerot, whom I had seen at Larande. They had both been 
accused of attempting to deliver Famagusta to the king of 
Cyprus, and had been banished. They had retired to the 
states of the karman ; the one to Larande, the other to Cou- 
hongue. Antony had been unfortunate. Vice sometimes 
blinds people ; and he had been caught with a Mohammedan 
woman, and the king had forced him to deny his religion to 
escape death ; but he appeared to be still a stanch Catholic. 
In our conversations, he told me many particulars of the 
country, of the character and government of the prince, and 
especially as to the manner in which he had taken and de- 
livered up Eamedan. The karman, he said, had a brother 
* Amurath, or Mured, II. 


whom lie banished from the country, and who took refuge at 
the court of the sultan, where he found an asylum. The 
sultan did not dare to declare war against him, but gave him 
to understand, that, unless he delivered Ramedan into his 
hands, he would send his brother with troops so to do. The 
karman made no hesitation, and rather than fight with him 
committed an infamous treason in regard to his brother-in- 
law. Antony added, that he was weak and cowardly, although 
his people are the bravest in all Turkey. His real name is 
Imbreymbas ; but he is called karman, from his being the 
lord of the country. Although he is allied to the Grand Turk, 
having married his sister, he detests him for having taken 
from him a portion of the karman. He is, however, afraid 
to make war on him, as he is the stronger ; but I am per- 
suaded that if he saw him successfully attacked by the Euro- 
peans he would not leave him in peace. 

In traversing his country, I passed near the frontiers of 
another, called Gasserie *, which is bounded on one side by 
the karman, and on the other by the high mountains of Tur- 
comania that extend towards Tharsis and Persia. Its lord is 
a valiant warrior, called Gadirolyf, who has under his com- 
mand thirty thousand Turcoman men-at-arms, and about one 
hundred thousand women, as brave and as fit for combat as 
men|. There are four lords continually at war with each 
other — Gadiroly, Quharaynich, Quarachust, and the son of 
Tamerlane, who is said to govern Persia. 

Antony told me, that when I quitted the mountains on the 
other side of Eregli, I had passed within half a day's journey 
of a celebrated town § where the body of St. Basil is interred, 
and spoke of it in such a manner that I had a wish to see it; 
but he so strongly represented that I should lose more by 
separating myself from the caravan, and expose myself to 
great risks when travelling alone, that I renounced all 
thoughts of it. He owned to me that his intentions were to 
accompany me to my lord the duke; for that he had no desire 
to become a Saracen, and that if he had entered into any 
engagements on this head it was solely to escape death. It 
had been ordered that he should be circumcised, and he was 

* Kaisariyeh, or Csesarea in Cappadocia. f Kadir-Oglu] 

Z These warlike women probably gave rise to the story of the Amazons. 
See Sir John Maundeville, p. 206. 
§ Tyana^ 


expecting tlie execution of it daily, wliicli gave him many 
fears. He was a very handsome man, about thirty-six years 
old. He told me also that the natives offer up public prayers 
in their mosques, like as we do in our churches on Sundays, 
in behalf of Christian princes, aud for other objects which we 
ask from God. Now one of the things they pray to God for 
is, to deliver them from the coming of such a man as Godfrey 
de Bouillon. 

The chief of the caravan making preparations to depart, I 
went to take leave of the Cypriot ambassadors. They had 
flattered themselves that I v/ould return with them, and re- 
newed their entreaties, assuring me that I should never com- 
plete my journey; but I persisted. It was at Couhongue that 
the caravan broke up. Hoyarbarach took with him only his 
own people, his wife, two of his children, whom he had car- 
ried with him to Mecca, one or two foreign w^omen, and my- 
self. I bade adieu to my mameluke. This good man, whose 
name was Mohammed, had done me innumerable services. 
He was very charitable, and never refused alms when asked 
in the name of God. Tt was through charity he had been so 
kind to me, and I must confess that without his assistance I 
could not have performed my journey without incurring the 
greatest danger ; and that, had it not been for his kindness, 
I should often have been exposed to cold and hunger, and 
much embarrassed with my horse. On taking leave of him, 
I was desirous of showing my gratitude ; but he would never 
accept of any thing except a piece of our fine European cloth 
to cover his head, which seemed to please him much. He 
told me all the occasions that had come to his knowledge, on 
which, if it had not been for him, I should have run risks of 
being assassinated, and warned me to be very circumspect in 
my connections with the Saracens, for that there were among 
them some as wicked as the Franks. I write this to recall to 
my reader's memory that the person who, from his love to 
God, did me so many and essential kindnesses, was a man 
not of our faith. 

The country w^e travelled through, on leaving Couhongue, 
is handsome, with tolerably good villages, but the inhabitants 
are wicked. Hoyarbarach forbade me to go out of my quar- 
ters when we halted, even in villages, lest I should be assas- 
sinated. There is near this place a celebrated bath, to which 
sick persons come for a cure of their several disorders. There 


are the remains of many houses that formerly belonged to 
the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem, ^vith the cross of Je- 
rusalem on them. 

After three days' march, we came to a small town, called 
Achsaray*, situated at the foot of a high mountain that shel- 
ters it from the south. The country is level, but not popu- 
lous, and the natives have a bad character ; I was consequently 
forbidden to leave my house in the evening. I travelled the 
ensuing day between two high mountains, whose tops were 
crowned with wood. The district is well peopled, partly by 
the Turcomans, and consists of pasture and marsh land. I 
there crossed a little brook that divides this country of kar- 
man from that of the other karman possessed by Amurath 
Bey, called by us the Grand Turk. This division resembles 
the former, in being a flat country, with mountains here and 

On our road we passed a town with a castle, called Acha- 
nay, and further on we came to a caravansera, where we in- 
tended to pass the night, but we found there twenty-live asses. 
Our commander refused to enter, and preferred returning a 
league further back to a large village, where we lodged, and 
found bread, cheese, and milk. 

From this place we went to Carassar f, which took two days. 
Carassar, in the Turkish Janguage, signifies " black stone." 
It is the capital of the country that Amurath Bey took by 
force of arms. Although uninclosed, it is a place of consider- 
able trade, and has one of the finest castles I have seen, but 
without any other water than what is collected in cisterns. 
It is seated on the summit of a high rock, so round that it 
might be thought to be worked with a chisel. Below is the 
town, surrounding it on three sides; but both are commanded 
by a mountain, from the north-east to the north-west. The 
other side opens to a plain, through which runs a river. Not 
long ago, the Greeks had gained possession of this place, but 
afterv/ards lost it by their cowardice. They dress sheeps' feet 
here with a cleanliness I have nowhere seen. I regaled 
myself with them the more eagerly, as I had not eaten any 
dressed meat since I had left Couhongue. They cook also a 
nice dish with green w^alnuts. Their manner is to peel them, 

* Ak-Serai, or Al-Shehr. 

f Kara-hissar, which signifies black castle, and not black stone. 

A.D. 1482.] KUTAIYEH. 329 

cut them into two, and put them on a string; then they are 
besprinkled with boiled wine, which attaches itself to them, 
and forms a jelly like paste all around them. It is a very 
agreeable food, especially when a person is hungry. We 
were obliged to lay in a stock of bread and cheese for two 
days, as I was disgusted with raw meat. 

Two days were employed in journeying from Carassar to 
Cotthay -'-^ The country is good, well watered, having no very 
high mountains. We traversed one end of a forest, wdiich 
seemed to me only remarkable for consisting entirely of oak, 
taller and larger than any T had hitherto met with, having 
besides, like fir-trees, branches only at the top. We took up 
our quarters for the night at a caravansera, distant from any 
habitations. We found there barley and straw in plenty., and 
we could the more easily have supplied our wants, as there 
was but a single servant to take care of them ; but the owners 
never have any thing to fear of this kind, for at such places 
there is no man so bold as to take the smallest article without 
paying for it. On our road was a small river renowned for 
its water. Hoyarbarach went to drink of. it with his women, 
and wished me to do the same, he himself offering me some 
in his leathern cup. This was the first time on the journey 
that he had done me this favour. 

Cotthay, although pretty considerable, is without w^alls ; 
but it has a handsome and large castle, composed of three 
forts rising one above the other, on the declivity of a hill, 
which has a double inclosure. This place was the residence 
of the son of the Grand Turk. There was a caravansera in 
the town, whither we went to lodge. It was already occupied 
by a party of Turks, and we were obliged, according to cus- 
tom, to turn our horses pell-mell. On the next morning, 
when making ready to depart, I perceived that one of my 
straps had been taken, which served to fasten on my horse's 
crupper, my carpets and other things I carried behind me. 
At first I began to cry out with much noise and anger ; but 
there was a Turkish slave present, one belonging to the sul- 
tan's son, a man of weight and about fifty years old, who, 
hearing me speak the language very incorrectly, took me by 
the hand, and conducted me to the gate of the caravansera, 
when he asked me in Italian who I was ? I was stupified to 

* Eutaiyeh, the ancient Cotyjcium. 


hear him thus speak, and replied that I was a Frank. 
"Whence do you come?" "From Damascus, in company 
with Hoyarbarach, and I am going to Bursa to meet one of 
my brothers." " Indeed ! but you are a spy, and come to 
make your remarks on this country. If you were not, would 
you not have embarked, and returned home by sea?" This 
unexpected accusation confounded me. I answered, however, 
that the Venetians and Genoese were carrying on so bitter a 
war that I was afraid to venture by sea. He asked whence I 
came? "From the kingdom of France," was my answer. 
"Are you from the neighbourhood of Paris?" I replied I 
was not, and, in my turn, asked if he were acquainted with 
Paris ? He said he had formerly been there with a captain, 
named Bernabo. "Take my advice," continued he; "re- 
turn to the caravansera, seek your horse, and bring him 
hither to me, for there are some Albanian slaves, who will 
steal from you every thing he carries. While I am taking 
care of him, do you go and breakfast, and procure for yourself 
and your horse provision for five days, for so long will you be 
on the road without meeting with any." I followed his ad- 
vice, and went to purchase provision. I breakfasted also the 
more heartily as I had not tasted meat for two days, and was 
told that I must not expect to meet with any for fi\e days 

When I quitted the caravansera, I took the road to Bursa -J^, 
leaving that leading to Troy on my left, between the south 
and west points. There were many high mountains, several 
of which I had to pass over. I had also two days' journey 
through forests, after which I traversed a handsome plain, in 
which are some villages good enough for the country. Half a 
day's journey from Bursa, we came to one that supplied us 
with meat and grapes, which last were as fresh as in the time 
of vintage ; this mode of preserving them is a secret they 
have. The Turks offered me some roast meat ; but it was 
not half dressed, and as the meat was roasting on the spit 
we cut off slices. We had also some kaymack, or buffalo cream; 
and it was so good and sweet that I ate of it till I almost 

Before we entered this last village, we noticed the arrival 
of a Turk from Bursa, who had been sent to the wife of 

* Brusa, the ancient Prusa. 

A.D. 143'^.] BEUSA. 331 

Hoyarbarach, to announce to her the death of her father. 
She showed great grief on the occasion, and I had then, for 
the first time, an opportunity of seeing her face uncovered. 
She was a most beautiful woman. There was at this place a 
renegado slave, a native of Bulgaria, who through affectation 
of zeal, and to show himself a good Saracen, reproached the 
Turks of the caravan for having allowed me to be in their 
company, saying it was sinful in them to do so, who were re- 
turning from the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. In consequence, 
they notified to me that we must separate, and I was obliged 
to set off for Bursa. I departed, therefore, on the morrow, 
an hour before day, with the aid of God, who had hitherto 
conducted me. He now guided me so well, that I never asked 
my road more than once on the whole way. 

On entering the town, I met numbers of people coming 
out to meet the caravan, for such is the custom. The most 
considerable look on it as a duty, and it constitutes the festi- 
val. Several of them, supposing I was one of the pilgrims, 
kissed my hands and robe. When I had entered the town, 
I was greatly embarrassed, for I had come to a square that 
had four streets opening from it, and I knew not which to 
take. God again pointed out to me the right one, that 
which leads to the bazaar, where the merchants reside with 
their merchandise. I addressed myself to the first Chris- 
tian I saw, and fortunately he happened to be one of the 
Espinolis of Genoa, the very person to whom Parvesin of 
Baruth had given me letters. He was much surprised to 
see me, and conducted me to the house of a Florentine, 
where I was lodged, as well as my horse. I remained there 
ten days, and employed that time in examining the town, 
being conducted by the merchants, who took great pleasure in 
so doing. 

Of all the towns in the possession of the Turks this is the 
most considerable. It is of great extent, carries on con- 
siderable trade, and is situated at the foot of the north side 
of Mount Olympus, whence flows a river which, passing 
through the town, divides itself into several branches, form- 
ing, as it were, a number of small towns that make it look 
larger than it is. It is at Bilrsa that the Turkish sultans are 
buried. There are many handsome buildings, and particu- 
larly a great number of hospitals, among which there are four, 
where bread, wine, and meat are frequently distributed to the 


poor who will accept of them for the sake of God. At one of 
the extremities of the town, towards the west, is a handsome 
and vast castle, built on an eminence that may well contain a 
thousand houses. There is also the place of the sultan, 
■which they told me was a very delightful place within side, 
having a garden and pretty pond. The prince had at that 
time fifty wives ; and he often, as they said, amuses himself 
in a boat with some of them on this piece of water. 

Bursa was also the residence of Camurat, bashaw, or, as w^e 
should say, governor or lieutenant of Turkey. He is a very 
brave man, the most active the Turk has, and the most able 
to conduct any enterprise, which qualities have been the prin- 
cipal cause of his elevation to this lieutenancy. I asked if 
he governed the country well, and if he knew how to make 
himself obeyed. I was told that he was obeyed and re- 
spected like Amurath himself, and had for his salary fifty 
thousand ducats a year; and that, when the Turk went to 
war, he brought him, at his own expense, twenty thousand 
men; but that he had likewise his pensioners, who in this 
case were bound to supply him at their charges, one with a 
thousand men, another with two, another with three thousand, 
and so on with the rest. 

There are in Bursa two bazaars ; one where all sorts of 
silken stuffs, and rich and brilliant diamonds, are sold, great 
quantities of pearls, and cheap cotton cloths, and a variety of 
other merchandise, the enumeration of which would be tire- 
some. In the other bazaar, cotton and white soap are sold, 
and constitute a great article of commerce. I saw also, in a 
market-house, a lamentable sight — a public sale of Christians 
for slaves, both men and women. The custom is to make 
them sit down on benches, and he who comes to buy sees 
only the face, the hands, and a little of the arm of the females. 
I witnessed at Damascus the sale of a young black girl, of 
not more than fifteen or sixteen years of age ; she was led 
along the streets quite naked, excepting the belly, the hinder 
parts, and a little below them. 

It w^as at Bursa that I ate, for the first time, caviare and 
olive oil. This food is only fit for Greeks, and when nothing 
better can be had. Some days after the return of Hoyar- 
barach, I went to take leave of him, and to thank him for the 
means he had procured me of continuing my journey to this 
place. I found him in the bazaar, seated on an elevated 


stone bench, with many of the principal inhabitants of the 
town. The merchants had accompanied me in this visit: 
some of them, Florentines by nation, interested themselves 
on behalf of a Spaniard, who, having been a slave to the sul- 
tan, found means to escape from Egypt and come to Bursa. 
They begged I would take him with me. I carried him at 
my expense as far as Constantinople, where I left him ; but I 
am persuaded he was a renegade, and I have never heard any 
thing of him since. 

Three Genoese had bought spices from the merchants of 
the caravan, and intended carrying them for sale to Pera, 
near Constantinople, and on the other side of the straits, which 
w^e call the Straits of St. George. Wishing to take the ad- 
vantage of their company, I waited for their departure, and 
for this reason stayed at Bursa, for no one can pass this strait 
unless he be known. With this view, they procured me a let- 
ter from the governor, which I carried with me; but it was 
useless, for I found means to cross with them. We set out 
together ; but they made me, for greater security, buy a high 
red hat, with a huvette of iron wire ^, which I wore as far as 

On leaving Bursa, we travelled northward over a plain 
watered by a deep river, which, about four leagues lower 
down, falls into the gulf between Constantinople and Galli- 
poli. We had a day's journey among mountains, which wood 
and a clayey soil made very disagreeable. There was on the 
road a small tree bearing a fruit somewhat bigger than our 
largest cherries, and of the shape and taste of strawberries, 
but a little acid. It is pleasant to eat ; but, if a great quan- 
tity be eaten, it mounts to the head, and intoxicates. It is 
ripe in November and December f. 

From the summit of the mountain, the gulf of Gallipoli is 
visible ; and when we had descended it we entered a valley 
terminated by a very large lake, round which many houses 
are built. It w^as there I first saw Turkish carpets made. I 
passed the night in this valley, which is very fertile in rice. 
On pursuing our road, we came sometimes to mountains, 
valleys, pasture-lands, and great forests, which it would be 
impossible to pass without a guide, and where the horses 

* The huvette was a kind of ornament worn on the hat. 

f From the description, it seems to be the arbutus Andrachne. 


plunge so deeply in the soil that they can hardly extricate 
themselves. I believe, for my part, that is the forest spoken 
of in the history of Godfrey de Bouillon, which he had such 
difficulty to traverse. I passed the night on the further side 
of it, at a village within four leagues of Nicomedia, which is 
a large town, with a harbour for shipping. This harbour is 
called Lenguo, and commences at the gulf of Constantinople, 
and extends to the town, where it is a bow-shot in breadth. 
All this country is difficult to travel ; but beyond Nicomedia, 
towards Constantinople, it is very fine, and tolerably good 
travelling. It is more peopled with Greeks than Turks ; but 
these Greeks have a greater aversion to the Latin Christians 
than the Turks themselves. 

I coasted the gulf of Constantinople, and leaving the road 
to Nicea, a town situated to the southward near the Black 
Sea, I successively lodged at a village in ruins, inhabited 
solely by Greeks ; then at another near to Scutari ; and, 
lastly, at Scutari itself, on the strait, and opposite to Pera. 
The Turks guard this passage -i', and receive a toll from all 
who cross it. It has rocks that would make it easy of defence, 
if they were fortified. Men and horses can readily embark 
and disembark. My companions and I crossed in two Greek 
vessels. The owners of my boat took me for a Turk, and paid 
me great honours; but when they saw me, after landing, leave 
my horse at the gate of Pera to be taken care of, and inquire 
after a Genoese merchant named Christopher Parvesin, to 
whom I had letters, they suspected I was a Christian. Two 
of them waited for me at the gate, and when I returned for 
my horse they demanded more than I had agreed on for my 
passage, and wanted to cheat me. I believe they would even 
have struck me, had they dared; I had my sword and my 
good tarquais, but a Genoese shoemaker who lived hard by, 
coming to my aid, they were forced to retreat. I mention 
this as a warning to travellers, who, like me, may have any 
thing to do with the Greeks. All those with whom I have 
had any concerns have only made me more suspicious, for I 
have found more probity in the Turks. These people f love 
not the Christians of the Eoman persuasion, and the submis- 

■* The Turks at this time held Scutari, but they had not obtained posses- 
sion of Constantinople. 

+ The Greeks. It was their hatred to the Latin church which facilitated 
the fall of Constantinople. 

A.B. 1432.] PEKA. 335 

sion which they have since made to this church was more 
through self-interest than sincerity^. Therefore I have been 
told that, a little before I came to Constantinople, the pope, 
in a general council, had declared them schismatics and ac- 
cursed, and had devoted them to be the slaves of slaves f. 

Pera is a large town, inhabited by Greeks, Jews, and 
Genoese ; the last are masters of it, imder the duke of Milan, 
who styles himself Lord of Pera. It has a podestat and other 
officers, who govern it after their manner. A great commerce 
is carried on with the Turks ; but the latter have a singular 
privilege, namely, that should any of their slaves run away, 
and seek an asylum in Pera, they must be given up. The 
port is the handsomest of all that I have seen, and I believe 
I may add, of any in the possession of the Christians, for the 
largest Genoese vessels may lie alongside the quays ; but, as 
all the world knows this, I shall not say more. It, however, 
seems to me, that on the land side and near the church, in 
the vicinity of the gate at the extremity of the haven, the 
place is weak. 

I met at Pera an ambassador from the duke of Milan, 
named Sir Benedicto de Fourlino. The duke, wanting the 
support of the emperor Sigismond against the Venetians, and 
seeing Sigismond embarrassed with the defence of his king- 
dom of Hungary against the Turks, had sent an embassy to 
Amurath, to negotiate a peace between the two princes. Sir 
Benedicto, in honour of my lord of Burgundy, gave me a 
gracious reception. He even told me, that to do mischief to 
the Venetians he had contributed to make them lose Salonica, 
taken from them by the Turks ; and certainly in this he acted 

* In 1438, John Paleologus II. came to Italy to form a union between 
tlie Greek and Latin churches, which took place the ensuing year at the 
council of Florence. But this step, as La Brocquiere remarks, was, on the 
part of the emperor, hut a political operation, dictated by interest, and with- 
out consequence. His dominions were then in so miserable a state, and 
himself so harassed by the Turks, that he was anxious to procure the aid of 
the Latins; and it was with this hope that he had come to inveigle the pope. 
This epoch, of 1438, is of consequence to our travels ; for it proves, since 
La Brocquiere quotes it, that he published it posterior to that year. 

f An error. The general council that took place a little before he came 
to Constantinople was that of Basil in 1431, when, far from anathematising 
and cursing the Greeks, it was occupied about their reunion. This pre- 
tended malediction was undoubtedly a report, which those who were against 
this reunion spread abroad in Constantinople; and the traveller seems to 
have thought so by the expression '' it was told me." 


SO much the worse, for I have since seen the inhabitants of 
that town deny Jesus Christ and embrace the Mohammedan 

There was also at Pera a Neapolitan, called Peter of 
Naples, with whom I was acquainted. He said he was mar- 
ried in the country of Prester John, and made many efforts to 
induce me to go thither with him. I questioned him much 
respecting this country, and he told me many things which I 
shall here insert, but 1 know not whether what he said be the 
truth, and shall not therefore warrant any part of it ^-5'-. 

Two days after my arrival at Pera, I crossed the haven to 
Constantinople, to visit that city. It is large and spacious, 
having the form of a triangle ; one side is bounded by the 
Straits of St. George, another towards the south by the bay, 
which extends as far as Gallipoli, and on the north side is the 
port. There are, it is said, three large towns on the earth, 
each inclosing seven hills, — Eome, Constantinople, and Anti- 
och. Eome is, I think, larger and more compact than Con- 
stantinople. As for Antioch, as I only saw it when passing 
by, I cannot speak of its size ; its hills, however, appeared to 
me higher than those of the two others. 

They estimate the circuit of the city of Constantinople at 
eighteen miles, a third of which is on the land side towards 
the west. It is well inclosed with walls, particularly on the 
land side. This extent, estimated at six miles from one angle 
to the other, has likewise a deep ditch, en glacis, excepting 
for about two hundred paces at one of its extremities, near 
the palace called Blaqueme. I was assured that the Turks 
had failed in their attempt to take the town at this weak 
j)art. Fifteen or twenty feet in front of this ditch is a false bray 
of a good and high w^all. At the two extremities of this line 
were formerly handsome palaces, which, if we may judge from 
their present ruins, were also very strong. I was told they 
had been destroyed by an emperor, when taken prisoner by 
the Turks and in danger of his life. The conqueror insisted 

* The manner in which our traveller here announces the relation of the 
Neapolitan shows how little he believed it ; and in this his usual good sense 
does not forsake him. This recital is, in fact, but a tissue of absurd fables 
and revolting marvels, undeserving to be quoted, although they may gene- 
rally be found in authors of those times. They are, therefore, here omitted ; 
most of them, however, will be found in the narrative of John de Maun- 

A.D. 1432.] CONSTANTINOPLE. ' 337 

on his surrendering Constantinople, and, in case of refusal, 
threatened to put him to death. The other replied, that he 
preferred death to the disgrace of afflicting Christendom by 
so great a loss, and that his death would be nothing in com- 
parison. When the Turk saw he could gain nothing by this 
means, he offered him his liberty on condition that the square 
in front of St. Sophia should be demolished, with the two 
palaces. His project was thus to weaken the town, that he 
might the more easily take it. The emperor accepted his 
offers, the proof of w^hich exists at this day. 

Constantinople is formed of many separate parts, so that it 
contains several open spaces to a greater extent than those 
built on. The largest vessels can anchor under its walls, as 
at Pera; it has, beside, a small harbour in the interior, 
capable of containing three or four galleys. This is situated 
to the southward, near a gate, where a hillock is pointed out 
composed of bones of the Christians, who, after the conquests 
of Jerusalem and Acre, by Godfrey de Bouillon, w^ere return- 
ing by this strait. When the Greeks had ferried them over, 
they conducted them to this place, which is remote and secret, 
where they were murdered. The whole, although a very 
numerous body, would have thus perished, had not a page 
found means to re-cross to Asia, and inform them of the- 
danger that awaited them. On this, they spread themselves 
on the shores of the Black Sea; and from them are said to be 
descended those rude Christians who inhabit that part of the 
country — Circassians, Mingrelians, Ziques, Gothlans, and 
Anangats. But, as this is an old story, I know of it no more- 
than what w^as told me. 

The city has many handsome churches, but the most re- 
markable and principal is that of St. Sophia, where the patri- 
arch resides, with others of the rank of canons. It is of a 
circular shape, situated near the eastern point, and formed of 
three different parts ; one subterraneous, another above the 
ground, and a third over that. Formerly it was surrounded 
by cloisters, and was three miles, as they say, in circumfer- 
ence. It is now of smaller extent, and only three cloisters 
remain, all paved, and incrusted with squares of white marble, 
and ornamented with large columns of various colours-. The 

* Two of these galleries, or porticos, called by our author cloisters, as well 
as the columns, still exist. These last are formed of different materials, 



gates are remarkable for their breadth, and height, and are of 
brass. This church, they say, possesses one of the robes of 
our Lord, the end of the lance that pierced his side, the 
sponge that was offered him to drink from, and the reed that 
was put into his hand. I can only say, that behind the choir, 
I was shown the gridiron on which St. Laurence was broiled, 
and a large stone in the shape of a wash-stand, on which they 
say Abraham gave the angels to eat, w^hen they were going to 
destroy Sodom and G omorrah. I was curious to witness the 
manner of the Greeks' performing divine service, and went to 
St. Sophia on a day when the patriarch officiated. The em- 
peror was present, accompanied by his wife, his mother, and his 
brother, the despot of the Morea-i^ A mystery was represented, 
the subject of which was the three youths whom Nebuchad- 
nezzar had ordered to be thrown into the fiery furnace f . 

The empress, daughter to the emperor of Trebisonde, 
seemed very handsome, but as I was at a distance I wished 
to have a nearer view ; and I was also desirous to see how she 
mounted her horse, for it was thus she had come to the church, 
attended only by two ladies, three old men, ministers of state, 
and three of that species of men to whose guard the Turks 
intrust their wives. On coming out of St. Sophia, she went 
into an adjoining house to dine, which obliged me to wait until 
she returned to her palace, and consequently to pass the whole 
day without eating or drinking. At length she appeared. A 
bench was brought forth and placed near her horse, which was 
superb, and had a magnificent saddle. When she had 
mounted the bench, one of the old men took the long mantle 
she wore, passed to the opposite side of the horse, and held it 
in his hands extended as high as he could ; during this, she 
put her foot in the stirrup, and bestrode the horse like a man. 
When she was in her seat, the old man cast the mantle over 
her shoulders; after which, one of those long hats with a 
point, so common in Greece, was given to her ; it was orna- 

porphyry, granite, marble, &c. ; and this is the reason why the traveller, not 
"being a naturalist, represents them as being of various colours. 

* This emperor was John Paleologus II. ; his brother Demetrius, despot 
or prince of the Peloponnesus ; his mother Irene, daughter to Constantine 
Dragases, sovereign of a small country in Macedonia; his wife Maria Com- 
nenes, daughter to Alexis, emperor of Trebisonde. 

t These devout plays were then as common in the Greek church as in the 
Latin. They were called ^"^ Mysteries" in France; and this is the name 
given by our traveller to the one he saw in St. Sophia. 


mented at one of the extremities with three golden plumes, 
and was yery becoming. I was so near that I was ordered to 
fall back, and, consequently, had a full view of her. She wore 
in her ears broad and flat rings, set with several precious 
stones, especially rubies. She looked young and fair, and 
handsomer than w^hen in church. In one word, I should not 
have had a fault to find with her, had she not been painted, 
and assuredly she had not any need of it. The two ladies 
mounted their horses at the same time that she did; they 
w^ere both handsome, and wore, like her, mantles and hats. 
The company returned to the palace of Blaquerne. 

In the front of St. Sophia is a large and handsome square, 
surrounded with walls like a palace, where games were per- 
formed in ancient times-''. I saw the brother of the emperor, 
the despot of the Morea, exercising himself there, wdth a score 
of other horsemen. Each had a bow, and they galloped along 
the inclosure, throwing their hats before them, w^hich, when 
they had passed, they shot at ; and he wlio with his arrow- 
pierced his hat, or was nearest to it, was esteemed the most 
expert. This exercise they had adopted from the Turks, and it 
w^as one of which they w-ere endeavouring to make themselves 

On this side, near the point of the angle, is the beautiful 
church of St. George, which has, fronting Turkey in Asia, a 
tower at the narrowest part of the straits. On the other side, 
to the westward, is a very high square column, with characters 
traced on it, and bearing on the summit an equestrian statue 
of Constantino, in bronze. He holds a sceptre in his left 
hand, with his right extended towards Turkey in Asia, and 
the road to Jerusalem, as if to denote that the whole of that 
countr}^ was under his government. Near this column are 
three others, placed in a line, and of one single piece, bearing 
three gilt horses, now at Venice f. 

In the pretty church of the Pantheacrator, occupied by 
Greek monks, who are what we should call in France Grey 
Franciscan Friars, I was shown a stone or table of divers 
colours, which Nicodemus had caused to be cut for his own 
tomb, and which he made use of to lay out the body of 
our Lord, when he took him down from the cross. Dur- 
ing this operation the virgin was w^eeping over the body, but 

* The Greek hippodrome — the atmeidan of the Turks. 
+ There are four. 

Z 2 


her tears, instead of remaining on it, fell on the stone, and 
they are all now to be seen upon it. I at first took them for 
drops of wax, and touched them with my hand, and then 
"bended down to look at them horizontally, and against the 
light, when they seemed to me like drops of congealed water. 
This is a thing that may have been seen by many persons as 
well as myself. In the same church are the tombs of Con- 
stantino and of St. Helena, his mother, raised each about 
eight feet high on a column, having its summit terminated in 
a point, cut into four sides, in the fashion of a diamond. It 
is reported that the Venetians, while in power at Constanti- 
nople, took the body of St. Helena from its tomb, and carried 
it to Venice, where they say it is now entire. It is added, 
that they attempted the same thing in regard to the body of 
Constantino, but could not succeed; and this is probable 
enough, for to this day two broken parts are to be seen, where 
they made the attempt. The two tombs are of red jasper. 

In the church of St. Apostola is shown the broken shaft of 
the column to which our Saviour was fastened when he was 
beaten with rods, by order of Pilate. This shaft, longer than 
the height of a man, is of the same stone with the two others 
that I have seen, at Eome and at Jerusalem ; but this ex- 
ceeds in size the other two put together. There are likewise 
in the same church, in wooden coffins, many holy bodies, very 
entire, and any one that chooses may see them. One of them 
had his head cut off, and that of another saint has been 
given him. The Greeks, however, have not the like devo- 
tion that we have for these relics. It is the same in respect 
to the stone of Nicodemus and the pillar of our Lord, which 
last is simply inclosed by planks, and placed upright near one 
of the columns on the right hand of the great entrance at the 
front of the church. 

Among the fine churches, I shall mention one more as 
remarkable, namely, that called Blaquerne, from being near 
the imperial palace, which, although small and badly roofed, 
has paintings, with a pavement and incrustations of marble. 
I doubt not but there may be others worthy of notice, but I 
"was unable to visit them all. The Latin merchants have one 
situated opposite to the passage to Pera, where mass is daily 
said after the Roman manner. 

There are merchants from all nations in this city, but 
none so powerful as the Venetians, who have a bailiff to 

A.D. 1432.] consta:n'tinople. 341 

regulate all tlieir affairs, independent of the emperor and his 
officers. This privilege they have enjoyed for a long time --. 
It is even said, that they have twice by their galleys saved the 
town from the Turks; but, for my part, I believe that God 
has spared it, more for the holy relics it contains than for any 
thing else. The Turks have also an officer to superintend 
their commerce, who, like the Venetian bailiff, is independent 
of the emperor ; they have even the privilege, that if one of 
their slaves shall run away, and take refuge within the city, 
on their demanding him, the emperor is bound to give 
him up. 

This prince must be under great subjection to the Turk, 
since he pays him, as I am told, a tribute of ten thousand 
ducats annually; and this sum is only for Constantinople, 
for beyond that town he possesses nothing but a castle 
situated three leagues to the north, and in Greece a small 
city called Salubria. 

I was lodged with a Catalonian merchant, who having told 
one of the officers of the palace that I was attached to my 
lord of Burgundy, the emperor caused me to be asked if it 
were true that the duke had taken the Maid of Orleans, 
which the Greeks would scarcely believe. I told them truly 
how the matter had passed, at which they were greatly 
astonished f. 

The merchants informed me, that on Candlemas-day there 
would be a solemn service performed in the afternoon, similar 
to what we perform on that day, and they conducted me 
thither. The emperor was at one end of the hall, seated on 
a cushion. The empress saw the ceremony from a window in 
an upper apartment. The chaplains who chant the service 
are strangely ornamented and dressed ; they sing the service 
by heart, " selon leurs dois." 

Some days after, they carried me to see a feast given on 
account of the marriage of one of the emperor's relations. 
There was a tournament after the manner of the country, but 
which appeared very strange to me. I will describe it. In 
the middle of a square they had planted, like a quintain, 

* Since tlie conquest of the East by tlie Latins, in 1204, to whicli con- 
quest the Venetians greatly contributed. 

'\' The jQucelle had been made prisoner in 1430, by an officer of Jean de 
Luxembourg, the duke's general, and, being afterwards sold by Jean to the 
English^ was burnt the following year. 


a large pole, to which was fastened a plank three feet wide 
and five feet long. Forty cavaliers advanced to the spot, 
without any arms or armour whatever but a short stick. They 
at first amused themselves by running after each other, which 
lasted for about half an hour ; then from sixty to fourscore 
rods of elder were brought, of the thickness and length of 
those we use for thatching. The bridegroom first took one, 
and set off full gallop towards the plank, to break it ; as it 
shook in his hand, he broke it with ease, when shouts of joy 
resounded, and the instruments of music, namely, nacaires, like 
those of the Turks, began to play. Each of the other cava- 
liers broke their wands in the same manner. Then the 
bridegroom tied two of them together, which in truth were 
not too strong, and broke them without being wounded*. 
Thus ended the feast, and every one returned to his home 
safe and sound. The emperor and empress had been specta- 
tors of it from a window. 

My intentions were to leave Constantinople with this Sir Bene- 
dict de Fourlino, who, as I have said, had been sent ambassador 
to the Turk by the duke of Milan. There was a gentleman 
named Jean Visconti, and seven other persons in his company, 
with ten led horses ; for when a traveller passes through 
Greece, he must absolutely carry every necessary with him. 

I departed from Constantinople the 23rd of January, 1433, 
and first came to the pass of Pdgory, which was formerly 
tolerably strong ; it is formed in a valley through which runs 
an arm of the sea, twenty miles long. There was a tower, 
but the Turks have destroyed it. In this place there remains 
a bridge, a causeway, and a Greek village. In the way to 
Constantinople by land, there is but this pass, and another 
low^er down, still more dangerous, on a river which there dis- 
charges itself into the sea. From Eigory I went to Thiras, 
inhabited also by Greeks ; it has been a good town, and a 
pass as strong as the preceding one, being formed in like 
manner by the sea. At each end of the bridge there was a 
large tower ; but tower and town have been entirely destroyed 
by the Turks. 

* La Brocquiere must have thought these joiistings ridiculous, from being 
accustomed to our tournaments, where the knights, cased in iron, fought with 
swords, lances, and battle-axes, and where, very frequently, men were killed, 
wounded, or trodden under foot by the horses. This has made him twice 
say, that in this jousting with sticks no one was wounded. 

A.D. 1433.] ADKIANOPLE. 313 

I went from Thiras to Salubria. This town, two days' journey 
from Constantinople, is situated on the gulf that extends 
from this place as far as Gallipoli, and has a small harbour. 
The Turks could never take it, although it is not strong toward 
the sea. It belongs to the emperor, as well as the whole 
country hitherto ; but this country is completely ruined, and 
has but poor villages. Thence I came to Chorleu, formerly 
considerable, destroyed by the Turks, and now inhabited by 
them and Greeks. Next to Chorleu is Misterio, a small in- 
closed place, inhabited only by Greeks, with one single Turk, 
to whom his prince has given it. From Misterio we came to 
Pirgasy, where there are none but Turks. The walls have 
been thrown down. Zambry is the next place to Pirgasy, and 
is equally destroyed. 

We next came to Adrianople, a large commercial town^ 
very populous, and situated on a great river called the Mariza, 
six days' journey from Constantinople. This is the strongest 
town possessed by the Turk in Greece, and here he chiefly 
resides. The lieutenant or governor of Greece lives here also; 
and many merchants from Venice, Catalonia, Genoa, and 
Florence are likewise residents. The country from Constanti- 
nople hither is good and well watered, but thinly peopled, 
having fertile valleys that produce every thing but wood. 
The Turk was at Lessere*, a large town in Pyrre, near to 
Pharsalia, where the decisive battle was fought between 
Csesar and Pompey, and Sir Benedict took the road thither to 
wait on him. We crossed the Mariza in a boat, and shortly 
after met fifty women of the Turk's seraglio, attended by 
about sixteen eunuchs, who told us they were escorting them 
to Adrianople, whither their master proposed soon following 

We came to Dymodiquef, a good town, inclosed with a 
double wall. It is defended on one side by a river, and on 
the other by a large and strong castle, constructed on an ele- 
vation which is almost round, and which may contain within 
its extent three hundred houses. In the castle is a dungeon, 
wherein I was told the Turk keeps his treasure. From 
Demetica we came to Ypsalaj; it has been a tolerable town, 
but is totally destroyed. I crossed the Mariza a second time. 

* Perhaps Larissa (Seres), in Phrygia. f Demetica? J Cypsela] 


It is two days' journey from Adrianople, and the country 
throughout was marshy, and difficult for the horses. 

Ayne'5^, beyond Ypsala, is on the sea-shore, and at the 
mouth of the Mariza, which at this place is full two miles 
wide. When Troy flourished this was a powerful city, and 
had a king; at present its lord is brother to the lord of 
Matelin, and tributary to the Turk. On the circular hillock 
is the tomb of Polydore, the youngest of the sons of Priam. 
The father had sent this son during the siege of Troy, 
to the king of Eno, with much treasure; but, after the 
destruction of Troy, the king, as much through fear of the 
Greeks as the wish to possess this treasure, put the young 
prince to death. 

At Eno, I crossed the Mariza in a large vessel and came to 
Maori, another maritime town to the westward of the first, 
and inhabited by Turks and Greeks. It is near to the island 
of Samandraf, which belongs to the lord of Eno, and seems 
to have been formerly considerable ; at present the whole of 
it is in ruins excepting a part of the castle. Caumissin, 
whither we came next, after having traversed a mountain, has 
good walls, which make it sufficiently strong although it is 
small. It is situated on a brook, in a fine flat country, in- 
closed by mountains to the westward; and this plain extends 
for five or six days' journey, to Lessere. Missy was equally 
strong, and well fortified, but part of its walls are thrown down 
and every thing within is destroyed ; it is uninhabited. 

Peritoq, an ancient town, and formerly considerable, is 
seated on a gulf which runs inland about forty miles, begin- 
ning at Monte Santo, where are such numbers of monks. 
The inhabitants are Greeks, and it is defended by good walls, 
which have, however, many breaches in them. Thence to 
Lessere, the road leads over an extensive plain. It was 
near Lessere, they say, that the grand battle of Pharsalia 
was fought. 

We did not proceed to this last town ; for hearing the Turk 
was on the road we waited for him at Yamgbatsar, a village 
constructed by his subjects. When he travels, his escort 
consists of four or five hundred horse ; but, as he is passion- 
ately fond of hawking, the greater part of his troop was com- 

* Eno. t Samothraki? 

A.D. 1433.] THE GKAND TUEK. 345 

posed of falconers and goshawk-trainers, a people that are 
great favourites with him ; and it is said that he keeps more 
than two thousand of them. Having this passion, he travels 
very short days' journeys, which are to him more an object of 
amusement and pleasure. He entered Yamgbatsar in a 
shower of rain, having only fifty horsemen attending him and 
a dozen archers, his slaves, walking on foot before him. His 
dress was a robe of crimson velvet, lined with sable, and on 
his head he wore, like the Turks, a red hat ; to save himself 
from the rain, he had thrown over this robe another, in the 
manner of a mantle, after the fashion of the country. 

He w^as encamped in a pavilion which had been brought 
with him; for lodgings are nowhere to be m^et with, nor any 
provision, except in the large towns, so that travellers are 
obliged to carry all things with them. He had numbers of 
camels and other beasts of burden. In the afternoon he 
came out of his pavilion to go to the bath, and I saw him at 
my ease. He w^as on horseback, with the same hat and crim- 
son robe, attended by six persons on foot. I heard him speak 
to his attendants, and he seemed to have a deep-toned voice. 
He is about twenty-eight or thirty years old, and is already 
very fat. 

The ambassador sent one of his attendants to ask him if 
he could have an audience, and present him the gifts he had 
brought. He made answer, that, being now occupied with his 
pleasures, he would not listen to any matters of business ; 
that, besides, his bashaws were absent ; that the ambassador 
must wait for them, or return to Adrianople. Sir Benedict 
accepted the latter proposal, and consequently we returned to 
Caumissin, whence, having repassed the mountain I have 
spoken of, we entered a road formed between two high rocks, 
and through them flows a river. A strong castle, called Co- 
loung, had been built on one of these rocks for its defence, 
but it is now in ruins. The mountain is partly covered with 
wood, and is inhabited by a wicked race of assassins. 

At length we arrived at Trajanopoly, a town built by the 
emperor Trajan, who did many things worthy of record. He 
was the son of the founder of Adrianople ; and the Saracens 
say that he had an ear like to that of a sheep '^. This town 

* Trajanopoly was not so called from having been built by Trajan, but 
because he died there. It existed before his time, and was named Seli- 
nunte. Hadrian was not the father of Trajan, but his adopted son, and, in 


was very large, near to the sea and tlie Mariza; but now no- 
thing is seen but ruins, with a few inhabitants. A mountain 
rises to the east of it, and the sea lies on the south. One of 
its baths bears the name of Holy Water. Further on is Vyra, 
an ancient castle, demolished in many places. A Greek told 
me the church had three hundred canons attached to it. The 
choir is still remaining, but the Turks have converted it mto 
a mosque. They have also surrounded the castle with a con- 
siderable town, inhabited by them and Greeks. It is seated 
on a mountain, near the Mariza. 

On leaving Vyra, we met the lieutenant of Greece, whom 
the Turk had sent for, and he was on his road to him with a 
troop of one hundred and twenty horse. He is a hand- 
some man, a native of Bulgaria, and had been the slave of 
his master; but as he has the talent of drinking hard, the 
prince gave him the government of Greece, with a revenue 
of fifty thousand ducats. Demetica, on my return, appeared 
much larger and handsomer than I thought it the first time ; 
and, if it be true that the Turk has there deposited his trea- 
sure, he is certainly ui the right to do so. 

We were forced to wait eleven days in Adrianople. At 
length he arrived, on the first day of Lent, The mufti, who 
is with them what the pope is to us, went out to meet him, 
accompanied by the principal persons of the town, who formed 
a long procession. He was already near the town when they 
met him, but had halted to take some refreshment, and had 
sent forward part of his attendants. He did not make his 
entry until night-fall. 

During my stay at Adrianople I had the opportunity of 
making acquaintance with several persons who had resided at 
his court, and consequently knew him w^ell, and who told me 
many particulars about him. In the first place, as I have 
seen him frequently, I shall say that he is a little, short, thick 
man, with the physiognomy of a Tartar. He has a broad 
and brown face, high cheek bones, a round beard, a great and 
crooked nose, with little eyes ; but they say he is kind, good, 
generous, and willingly gives away lands and money. His 

this riglit, became his successor. Adrianople was not founded by Hadrian. 
An earthquake had ruined it, and he ordered it to be rebuilt, and gave it his 
name. Such errors are excusable in an author of the fifteenth century. As 
for the sheep's ear^ it is spoken of as a Saracenic fable. 

A.D. 1433.] THE GRATsD TUEK. 347 

revenues are two millions and a lialf of ducats, including 
twenty-five thousand received as tribute-money*. Besides, 
when he raises an army, it not only costs him nothing, hut 
he gains by it ; for the troops that are brought him from 
Turkey in Europe, pay at Gallipoli, the comarch, which is 
three aspers for each man, and five for each horse. It is the 
same at the passage of the Danube. Whenever his soldiers 
go on an expedition, and make a capture of slaves, he has the 
right of choosing one out of every hYC. He is, nevertheless, 
thought not to love war, and this seems to me well founded. 
He has, in fact, hitherto met with such trifling resistance 
from Christendom that, were he to employ all his power and 
wealth on this object, it would be easy for him to conquer 
great part of itf. His favourite pleasures are hunting and 
hawking; and he has, as they say, upwards of a thousand 
hounds, and two thousand trained hawks of different sorts, of 
which I have seen very many. He loves liquor and those 
who drink hard ; as for himself, he can easily quaff off from 
ten to twelve gondils of wine, which amount to six or seven 
quarts t- When he has drunk much, he becomes generous, 
and distributes his great gifts; his attendants, therefore, are 
very happy when they hear him call for wine. Last year, a 
Moor took it into his head to preach to him on this subject, 
admonishing him that wine was forbidden by the prophet, and 
that those who drank it were not good Saracens. The only 
answer the prince gave was to order him to prison : he then 
banished him his territories, with orders never again to set 
his foot on them. He unites to his love for women a taste 

* There must be here an error of the copyist, for 25,000 ducats as tri- 
bute is too small a sum. We shall see, further on, that the despot of Servia 
paid annually 50,000 for himself alone. 

f The sultan mentioned here under the name of Amourat Bey is Amou- 
rath II., one of the most celebrated of the Ottoman princes. History records 
many of his victories, which are indeed for the most part posterior to the 
account of our traveller. If he did not conquer more, it was owing to 
having Huniades, or Scanderberg, opposed to him. But his glory was eclipsed 
by that of his son, the famous Mohammed II., the terror of Christians, and 
surnamed by his countrymen " the G-reat," who twenty years after this 
period, in 1453, took Constantinople, and destroyed Avhat little remained of 
the Greek empire. 

J The cjitarte, so called from being the fourth part of the chenet, which 
contained four pots and one French pint. The pot held two pints, conse- 
quently the quarte made two bottles more than half a septier ; and twelve 
gondils made twenty-three bottles. 


for boys, and has three hundred of the former and about 
thirty of the latter, which he prefers, and when they are 
grown up he recompenses them with rich presents and lord- 
ships. One of them he married to a sister of his, with an 
annual income of '25,000 ducats. Some persons estimate his 
treasure at half a million of ducats, others at a million. 
This is exclusive of his plate, his slaves, the jewels for his 
■^vomen, which last article is estimated alone at a million of 
gold. I am convinced that if he would for one year abstain 
from thus giving away blindly, and hold his hand, he would 
lay by a million of ducats without wronging any one. 

Every now and then he makes great and remarkable ex- 
amples of justice, which procures him perfect obedience at 
home and abroad. He likewise knows how to keep his coun- 
try in an excellent state of defence, without oppressing his 
Turkish subjects by taxes or other modes of extortion. His 
household is composed of five thousand persons, as well horse 
as foot ; but in war-time he does not augment their pay, so 
that he does not expend more than in time of peace, contrary 
to what happens in other nations. His principal officers are 
three bashaws, or visir bashaws. The visir is a counsellor ; 
the bashaw a sort of chief, or lieutenant. These three have 
the charge of all that concerns himself or his household, and 
no one can speak with him but through them. When he is 
in Greece, the lieutenant of Greece has the superintendence 
of the army ; and when in Turkey, the lieutenant of Turkey. 
He has given away great possessions, but he may resume 
them at pleasure. Besides, those to whom they have been 
given are bound to serve him in war, Avith a certain number 
of troops, at their own expense. 

It is thus that Greece annually supplies him with thirty 
thousand men, whom he may lead whither he pleases ; and 
Turkey ten thousand, for w^hom he only finds provisions. 
Should he want a more considerable army, Greece alone, as 
they tell me, can then furnish him with one hundred and 
twenty thousand more ; but he is obliged to pay for these. 
The pay is five aspers for the infantry, and eight for the 
cavalry. I have, however, heard, that of these hundred and 
twenty thousand there was but half, that is to say, the cavalry, 
that were properly equipped, and well armed with tarquais and 
sword ; the rest were composed of men on foot miserably ac- 
coutered ; some having swords without bows, others without 


swords, bows, or any arms whatever, many having only staves. 
It is the same with the infantry supplied by Turkey, one-half 
armed with staves. This Turkish infantry is nevertheless 
more esteemed than the Greek, and considered as better 

Other persons, whose testimony I regard as authentic, have 
since told me, that the troops Turkey is obliged to furnish, 
when the prince wants to form an army, amount to thirty 
thousand men, and those from Greece to twenty, without in- 
cluding two or three thousand slaves of his own, whom he 
arms well. Among these slaves are many Christians ; and 
there are likewise numbers of them among the troops from 
Greece, Albanians, Bulgarians, and from other countries. In 
the last army from Greece, there were three thousand Servian 
horse, which the despot of the province had sent under the 
command of one of his sons. It was with great regret that 
these people came to serve him, but they dared not refuse. 

The bashaws arrived at Adrianople three days after their 
lord, bringing with them part of his people and his baggage. 
This baggage consists of about a hundred camels, and two 
hundred and fifty mules and sumpter horses, as the nation 
does not use wagons. 

Sir Benedict was impatient to have an audience, and made 
inquiries of the bashaws if he could see the prince : their 
answer was a negative. The reason of this refusal was, that 
they had been drinking \vith him, and were all intoxicated. " 
They, however, sent on the morrow to the ambassador to let 
him know they were visible, when he instantly waited on each 
with his presents ; for such is the custom of the country, that 
no one can speak to them without bringing something ; even 
the slaves who guard their gates are not exempted from it. 
I accompanied him on this visit. On the following day, in 
the afternoon, he was informed that he might come to the 
palace. He instantly mounted his horse to go thither with 
his attendants, and I joined the company ; but we were all 
on foot, he alone being on horseback. 

In front of the court we found a great number of men and 
horses. The gate was guarded by about thirty slaves, under 
the command of a chief, armed with staves. Should any per- 
son offer to enter without permission, they bid him retire : if 
he persist, they drive him away with their staves. What we 
call the court of the king, the Turks call " Porte du Seig- 


neur."'!^ Every time the prince receives a message or an 
embassy, which happens almost daily, " il fait porte." " Faire 
porte," is for him the same as when our kings of France hold 
royal state and open court, although there is much difference 
between the two ceremonies, as I shall presently show. 

When the ambassador had entered, they made him sit down 
near the gate, with many other persons who were waiting for 
the prince to quit his apartment and hold his court. The 
three bashaws first entered, with the governor of Greece and 
others of the great lords. His chamber looked into a very 
large court; the governor went thither to wait for him. At 
length he appeared. His dress was, as usual, a crimson satin 
robe, over which he had, by way of mantle, another of green 
figured satin, lined with sable. His young boys accompanied 
him, but no further than to the entrance of the apartment, 
when they returned. There was nobody with him. but a small 
dwarf, and two young persons who acted the part of fools f . 
He walked across an angle of the court to a gallery, where a 
seat had been prepared for him. It w^as a kind of couch 
covered with velvet, and four or five steps to mount to it. He 
seated himself on it, like to our tailors wdien they are going 
to w^ork, and the three bashaws took their places a little way 
from him. The other officers, who on these days make part 
of the attendants, likewise entered the gallery, and posted 
themselves along the walls as far from him as they could. 
Without, but fronting him, were twenty Wallachian gentle- 
men seated, who had been detained by him as hostages for 
the good conduct of their countrymen. Within this apart- 
ment were placed about a hundred dishes of tin, each con- 
taining a piece of mutton and rice. When all were placed, a 
lord from Bosnia was introduced, who pretended that the 
crown of that country belonged to him, and came in conse- 
quence to do homage for it to the Turk, and ask succour from 
him against the present king. He w^as conducted to a seat 
near the bashaws ; and, when his attendants had made their 
appearance, the ambassador from Milan w'as sent for. He 
advanced, followed by his presents, which were set down near 
the tin dishes. Persons appointed to receive them raised 

* The origin of the title of " The Sublime Porte." 

-}- Having court fools was a very ancient custom at the eastern courts. It 
liad been introduced by the Crusaders at the courts of Christian princes, and 
was continued at that of France until the rei^n of Louis XIY. 

A.D. 1433.] THE TURKISH COUET. 351 

them above their heads, as high as they could, that the prince 
and his court might see them. While this was passing, sir 
Benedict walked slowly toward the gnllerj. A person of dis- 
tinction came to introduce him. 

On entering, he made a reverence without taking off the 
bonnet from his head, and when near the steps of the couch 
he made another very low one. The prince then rose, de- 
scended two steps to come nearer to the ambassador, and took 
him by the hand. The ambassador wished to kiss his hand, 
but he refused it ; and by means of a Jew interpreter, who 
understood the Turkish and Italian languages, asked how his 
good brother and neighbour the duke of Milan was in health. 
The ambassador having replied to this question, he was con- 
ducted to a seat near the Bosnian, but walking backwards, 
with his face towards the prince, according to the custom of 
the country. The prince waited to reseat himself, until the 
ambassador had sat down ; then the different officers on 
duty who were in the apartment sat down on the floor ; and 
the person who had introduced the ambassador went to seek 
for us his attendants, and placed us near the Bosnians. 

In the meantime a silken napkin was attached to the 
prince, and a round piece of thin red leather was placed be- 
fore him, for their usage is to eat only from table-coverings of 
leather ; then some dressed meat was brought to him in two 
gilded dishes. When he was served, his officers went and 
took the tin dishes I have spoken of, and distributed them to 
the persons in the hall, one dish among four. There was in 
each a piece of mutton, and some clear rice, but neither 
bread nor any thing to drink. I saw, however, in a corner of 
the court a high buffet with shelves, which had some little 
plate on them, and at the foot was a large silver vase, in the 
shape of a drinking cup, which I perceived many to drink out 
of, but whether water or wine I know not. With regard to 
the meat on the dishes, some tasted of it, others not ; but, be- 
fore all were served, it was necessary to take away, for the 
prince had not been inclined to eat. He never takes any 
thing in public, and there are very few persons who can boast 
of having heard him speak, or of having seen him eat or 
drink. On his going away, the musicians, who were placed 
in the court near the buffet, began to play. They played on 
instruments, and sung songs that celebrated the heroic actions 
of Turkish warriors. When those in the gallery heard any 


thing that pleased them, they shouted, after their manner, 
most horrid cries. Being ignorant on what they were playing, 
I went into the court, and saw they were stringed instruments, 
and of a large size. The musicians entered the apartment, 
and ate whatever they could find. At length the meat was